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Town Council Meeting 8/7/23 The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

The 8/7/23 Town Council Meeting had its share of diverse moments. The Council meeting agenda seemed to indicate a fairly straightforward and productive meeting. However as events unfolded there truly was the good, bad and ugly.

The good: The Mayor made some excellent appointments and re-appointments to various Town Commissions. New appointees were Amanda Loetterie appointed to the Economic Development Commission, Raymond Tignall appointed to the Economic Development Commission, Kim Buynak appointed a full member of the Planning Commission, and Heather Wallace appointed to the Planning Commission as an alternate. George Guevara was re-appointed to the Board of Recreation and Parks, and Richard Swanson was re-appointed to the Water and Sewer Commission. Congratulations to all those volunteers who have spent and will soon spend much of their time serving in the Mt Airy government.

Another good that happened in the meeting, Ordinance 2023-30 was re-introduced which updates open space requirements for mixed use zoned (MXD and MXU) properties to be consistent with the other non DownTown Zones (DTZ). For background on this ordinance, the overall parks and open space requirement for Mt Airy is based on a three acre per 100 persons formula. The Town is not currently meeting this requirement. In order to allow development activities to continue, open space waivers can be granted, if the development project will provide open space of at least three acres per 100 persons. However, prior to this ordinance, development projects on MXD and MXU zoned properties could receive an open space waiver that required development projects to provide only 10% open space. Thus the Mt Airy open space deficit would get worse for open space waivers on MXD and MXU projects. Now, all zones outside the DTZ would be treated the same. This is good news for Mt Airy. A public hearing is scheduled for the next Town Council Meeting.

The bad: Mt Airy gets its water via wells. It is important that the wells are adequately protected. A well protection ordinance, 2023-34 was on the agenda for adoption. However it did not pass by a 3-2 margin. The attempt to produce a WellHead protection ordinance has been going on for quite some time but the Town Council has had some difficulty in producing a vote proof ordinance. Hopefully this is not the end of the attempt to get a WellHead ordinance passed.

The ugly: A Council Member spoke against one of the Mayoral appointees based on the appointee’s association with a particular citizen group. (Problem-what about our Constitutional rights of free speech and association?) There were many in the audience and perhaps the Town Council Members themselves that were shocked at his comments. You can view a replay of his objections and the appropriate counters by three other Council Members and the Mayor. A very ugly moment for this Council Member.

Ugly Time stamp 42:00-54:10

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