1/24/23: TOWN PLANNING BOARD TO TAKE UP LAND USE PLAN SURVEY RESULTS TODAY AT 5 P.M. IN INADEQUATELY NOTICED SPECIAL MEETING.

The Town Planning Board will hold a special meeting today at 5 p.m. to review the results of the public survey for the Land Use Plan project and discuss “potential goals for the plan” with the Town’s consultant, Stewart, Inc., according to a late meeting notice published on the Town website, most likely yesterday afternoon.

The N.C. open meetings law requires 48-hour notice of all special meetings of public bodies, which the Planning Board is. The Beacon checks the Town website every morning for news; no notice of this meeting was online when we checked yesterday.

Town Clerk Sheila Kane routinely sends The Beacon emails about upcoming meetings, as she does other members of the local media. Ms. Kane has yet to send us one about today’s special meeting.   

The Board’s meeting will be held in the Pitts Center.

According to a link posted with the notice, Planning Board Chairperson Andy Ward requested the special meeting on Friday, Jan. 20—with the time of day not indicated. No corresponding official grant of the request appears online.

See Ward’s request at https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/planning_board/meeting/2993/1-24-23_special_pb_mtg_request.pdf.

Also included with the Town’s late notice of the meeting is a link to the Land Use Plan survey results. Dated Jan. 9, 2023—one day after the deadline for completing the survey—the file summarizing the results may be accessed here:   

A list of draft goals and preliminary recommendations submitted by the consultant on Jan. 19, appears here:

https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/planning_board/meeting/2993/draft_goals_20230118.pdf.

We are very disappointed with the Planning Board’s and Town staff’s scheduling and handling of this important meeting. Not only is the Town’s notice to the public procedurally inadequate, the substantive nature of the meeting lacks the urgency to justify it. What’s the hurry?

We also fault the Town for not announcing in a special news item or in the Jan. 13 newsletter that the results of the survey had been compiled and posted online. A resident should not have to skim through the supporting document links on the Town’s Land Use Plan Update Project page to ascertain whether they are available.  

Adding to the irregularity, Mr. Ward proposes to conduct regular Planning Board business today that the Board was scheduled to take up at its regular meeting Jan. 18, which it canceled. Thus, today’s meeting is also an unnoticed rescheduling of a regular meeting.  

See the full notice of today’s special meeting here:

https://www.southernshores-nc.gov/bc-pb/page/planning-board-will-hold-special-meeting-january-24-2023

We are unable to attend or to live-stream today’s Planning Board meeting or to report on it this week because of preexisting commitments. We welcome informative reports from Beacon readers about the meeting.   

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 1/24/23

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