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Former Councilman strongly opposed to prior County Proposal to eliminate Public Hearing


COUNTY COUNCIL VOTE ON MAY 23


On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, at 5:30 pm, County Council will vote on a proposed ordinance amendment to take away the existing public hearing in the multi-family subdivision development approval process and change the decision from one that is made during open public meetings by the Planning Commission and County Council to an in-house county staff decision made behind closed doors. Under the proposed amendment, the general public will no longer have notice before a project is approved.


SAME PROPOSAL 5 YEARS AGO

APRIL 26, 2018, LETTER TO THE EDITOR BY

COUNCILMAN JOHN THOMAS


Back in 2018, our county administration proposed the same change. At that time, before KIG even existed as an organized group of citizens, our seasoned District 1 Council Representative, John Thomas, who later served as council chair, stated publicly in a Letter to the Editor of the Coastal Observer that he was "strongly opposed" to abolishing the public review process and suggested that public review of development applications is something the county "should embrace, not oppose."


He observed that the county's "practice of being extraordinarily developer friendly must stop." The letter is reprinted below for your review, and provides insight from the perspective of an experienced council member.


HISTORY


There was wisdom and sound reasoning behind the implementation of the public hearing process for multi-family development on the part of experienced Waccamaw Neck council representatives in the early years. In later years, other council members such as John Thomas and Bob Anderson made it clear that the public hearing and review would not be eliminated on their watch and advocated for even more public participation in the approval process.


We hope our two new council representatives, Stella Mercado and Clint Elliott, will continue the tradition of representing and protecting the interests of their constituents as their experienced predecessors did when faced with this same issue in the past. We hope they will keep their campaign promises to increase transparency in the planning and zoning process rather than decreasing it as proposed by this amendment.


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