In my letter to the Editor published in the Jan. 19 Gazette, I reported that in the meeting notice issued by Mount Vernon Supervisor Dan Storck, for the Jan. 26 meeting concerning proposed development of a portion of the Bock Farm, Supervisor Storck stated that there would be no audience participation. Quoting from the notice: "The meeting is for informational purposes only, NO votes, statements or verbal opinions will be solicited, although an opinion survey, which will also be available on our website, will be distributed at the end of the meeting."
In my letter, I expressed my disagreement with this decision which I characterized as stifling free speech. As I explained: "Stifling free speech is never a good idea. I strongly urge Supervisor Storck to permit public comment and discussion at the meeting so that those neighbors closest to the farm will have the opportunity to weigh in. Doing so may also reduce the county's exposure to litigation should a decision be made by the Board of Supervisors that goes against the wishes of the majority of those closely adjacent neighbors most impacted by the proposed development."
I attended the meeting and am pleased to report that Supervisor Storck permitted audience questions, both through raising of hands and by collecting cards his staff passed out, with audience questions written on them. I take no credit for this change in the meeting format but am gratified it occurred.
Based upon the information discussed at the meeting, there remain three possible development options, the one before the Board of Supervisors and scheduled for an up or down vote on Feb. 14, and two others, either of which would require further proceedings before county staff, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. As I explained in my prior letter, the developer would do well to carefully listen to the concerns of adjacent neighbors and satisfy those concerns. Perhaps a balloon test would help determine the visual impact of the proposed development on adjacent neighbors. That would help the Board of Supervisors in assessing the credibility of adjacent neighbor concerns.
H. Jay Spiegel