Monday, June 11, 2007

County Board Muzzle?

Is the McHenry County Board attempting to muzzle residents and other objectors to matters being heard at the Board level after passing through the Zoning Board of Appeals?

By telling residents to appear before the ZBA and then allowing the ZBA to exclude comments by those residents from its report and recommendations, does the County Board effectively stick its fingers in its ears and cover its eyes to the facts and opinions of residents about projects?

An objector to a matter before the ZBA should certainly voice his opinion and present facts there that he believes relevant to a zoning matter. But, when the ZBA recommends a project to the County Board and a resident, neighbor, or citizen doesn’t agree, then that person must have the right to approach the body that will make the ultimate decision.

Should the County Board even limit remarks on a Tuesday night to three minutes? If a citizen wishes to present information and stays on the topic to present new information (and not merely a re-hash of another speaker’s remarks), should he be limited to three minutes? Does the “three-minute rule” just create a situation where Board members “can endure anything if it’s just for three minutes”? “Go ahead; torture me. I can handle anything for three minutes!”

If a speaker presents facts and opinions at the County Board meeting, then we all know that the Board heard them. Well, errr, at least that the speaker said them and the Board should have heard them. If the Board then goes willy-nilly along on its own way, the record will be clear, and the Board members will not be able to say later that they “didn’t know.”

More County resident attendance and participation are needed at County Board meetings. They are making decisions and spending our money. We should be paying closer attention. All the time.

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