2010-10-30 / Editorials & Letters

Wells says the village prefers ‘to kill the messenger’


The Buckeye Lake Council President read a prepared statement at this week’s council meeting asking for support of commission members and scolding “naysayers” and the “negative press.”

She said voters made a choice at the last election for “positive” leadership. It seems a history lesson is needed to remind her that our country was founded on a set of freedoms including Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. Unfortunately, some of our local officials constantly demonize those who exercise these freedoms.

Generally, public officials accept questions and criticism as part of the job description. But, officials in this village have long preferred a “kill the messenger” approach. Though several members were absent, I tried using an analogy to break through the stonewalling. I reminded them how difficult it is when a doctor comes to the waiting room and shares bad news with a family about their loved one’s diagnosis. It’s not easy and few of us like to get bad news, but the truth has to be said. Proper treatment cannot be initiated until you know the diagnosis. As tough as it is to hear the truth, do family members then call the doctor a “naysayer”? Do they “kill the messenger” pretending that he or she CREATED the bad (negative) news instead of just reporting it?

So it is with the health of our village. Instead of taking responsibility for the patient (the village) and investigating the different courses of action (or treatment), this family (village officials) wants to kill the messenger, ignoring the diagnosis and allowing the patient to get worse.

One of our current illnesses is the inconsistent application and enforcement of zoning regulations. The issue is the newly created parking lot in an R-2 neighborhood by the chair of the village’s planning and zoning commission. Our zoning regulations clearly state that a permit is required to change the use of land. There was no application for a permit. No one can argue that the creation of multiple parking spaces is not a change in the use of this land.

Secondly, the parking requirements for Residential Districts R-2 are regulated by Article 10, Section 1007, “Parking spaces for all detached residential uses shall be located on the same lot as the use, which they are intended to serve.”

My official complaint filed Oct. 11 refers to a “parking lot.” Mayor Baker’s response dated Oct. 20 claims that, according to legal counsel, village zoning regulations don’t regulate or define “parking lots.” Therefore, there’s no violation. This weak argument reminds me of President Clinton comments, “It depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is! Okay, I’ll play the game and file another complaint referring to “parking area and/or parking spaces.”

It’s disappointing that no one wants to read the regulations for themselves, use common sense and approach the issue seriously. Rather it appears that their efforts are focused on finding any reason to excuse her actions.

Baker’s letter isn’t based on a legal opinion. It’s an effort to use a “higher authority” – the village solicitor – to dismiss my complaint without considering its merits. The goal is to shut down the dialogue because the legal authority has spoken. The letter doesn’t even factually address my complaint.

The question remains, “Do the zoning regulations apply EQUALLY to all of us or not?
Peggy Wells
Buckeye Lake

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