Why so many unanswered questions?
by Lisa Frye
June 26, 2008
On Thursday, June 5, the Stay Inside the Fence Committee delivered 2,069 Middletown voter signatures for a referendum petition drive to the city of Middletown to overturn the May 6 legislative decision to rezone the Martin farmland to industrial (use). The next day, The Journal reported that the city announced it would re-do the process and start over from the beginning, thereby avoiding the cost of a lawsuit battle pending in the courts on the same issue. Although the city stated that they did nothing wrong in the re-zoning process, they willingly decided to re-do it. When was the last time the city has re-done legislation immediately after it was passed?
So, if they truly had followed the proper legal process in the re-zoning of this land, why are they afraid to answer questions in court regarding it? Moreover, if it was truly such an "emergency" (the way in which it was passed originally), what makes it not an emergency now that they are willing to re-do the entire process? And lastly, did our submission of petitions a few hours before they made the announcement to re-do the process impact their decision?
Do they not want to run the risk of the people having their say about this critical rezoning? And why are they now mentioning amending the zoning code? Did the city know from the beginning that this coke plant didn't fit on that land to begin with? Do the elect few want to control the direction of the city and ignore the voice of the people?
Why are there so many unanswered questions? Keeping the legislation "on the books" undermines the true spirit of re-doing this legislation. It feels deceptive when they say they want to "re-do" the zoning, but are still keeping the original one "on the books."
Perhaps they forgot there is still a pending lawsuit to which they need to respond. We are still awaiting validation from the city and county Board of Elections as to if we received enough signatures to make it on the fall ballot. But one thing is clear — after circulating petitions and collecting more than 2,000 signatures in one week, it is clear that the people want to have a say in issues that affect their lives. As long as elected officials continue to represent only one segment of the community (or one business), our system has failed.