Lack of Quorum Gives Public Center Stage - TribPapers

Lack of Quorum Gives Public Center Stage

Woodfin Commissioners was short a quorum for their regular monthly meeting.

Woodfin – For the first time since the Tribune began covering the town’s monthly meeting, the Town of Woodfin did not have enough commissioners present for a quorum. Therefore, it held an abbreviated monthly meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17, where the only vote taken was to go into executive session. The mayor and the few commissioners who were present listened to public comments and heard reports.

During public comment, residents spoke against the rezoning of a property near the Blueberry Hill subdivision from Community Shopping to Light Industrial. Others spoke about concerns with town operations and transparency. Still, others vocalized concerns about the consequneces of development on the environment. 

First, Blueberry Hill resident Steve Tinsley said he didn’t have a problem with the storage facility the property owner wanted to construct there, but what would be built if the storage facility fell through. A hearing about rezoning the property was one of two hearings on the board’s agenda for the evening before it was short a quorum.

Rushing Through Town Projects

Next, Nathan Miller was concerned that the boards and commission didn’t have a “..true plan to work through things. Some things are rushed through quickly, while others are played so much slower.” 

In this case, Miller talked about development ordinances and filling the seat left open by Don Honeycutt. “Another one of those things was I came tonight expecting or hoping to hear about the positioning the new people on the board. Because I believe on the [town] charter, it says it happens at the meeting right after the vote, once the vote is certified, but it’s not on the agenda and we don’t have enough people here and I don’t know when that’s going to happen and yet when, unfortunately, we lose a member due to health,  call around to find out what’s going on and that person is immediately put on the board,” Miller said.

While Miller is right about the charter, Town Administrator Eric Hardy later told the Tribune that the state will not certify the result until later in the month.  That is why the swearing-in is held in December each year.

Citizens Upset

Ellen Brown, who said she is a historian, noted, “I have been paying attention to what I’ve been noticing over the last six months or so and I think tonight you all have an opportunity to be open, transparent, forward-thinking and not to be in any way devious, avoidant or trying to get around something.” She did not elaborate on what those things were but did say, “It feels like we should have known that there would be a quorum tonight. It feels like that news should have gotten out. It feels like if there’s something on the books that say after the election before the next meeting, the new members should be put on the board, I’m going, ‘so why didn’t we?’” 

“I think Woodfin has the capacity, capabilities and the desire to do the right thing,” said resident Diane Dewitt. “We have a responsibility to the earth. We can not be looking at the rights. Always legal, legal, rights. Claim this, do this. Once the land has been hurt, it’s very hard to repair it.”

While the public spoke, the board only listened and offered no rebuttals or answereds.

After public comment, the board heard a report from Nancy Lux, of Ray, Bumgarner, Kingshill & Associates out of Waynesville on the town 2020-2021 financial audit. 

Lux said, “We have issued an unmodified audit report, which is the highest level of reports we can give as auditors, so congratulations…Woodfin has had a good year, a healthy year.”

The board then heard department reports before voting to go into a closed session and adjourning for the night.

Editor’s note: Be sure to read Clint’s Corner.

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