• Lamar T West, Sr.

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC?

Updated: Jul 23

City Council and County Council Meetings


Due to COVID-19, AKA the Communist Chinese Coronavirus, our City and Council meetings are all but impossible for the public to view, attend or participate.


Perhaps the City of Abbeville and the County of Abbeville can still learn from the Abbeville County School District. The school district meetings are held online and can be viewed in real time, and while sometimes the meetings are difficult to hear and understand, this option is certainly much better than what the City and County Council provide to the public.


We would suggest City and County Council follow the school board’s viewing accommodations for the benefit of the people and press.


In order to attend City Council meetings, you need to call in and listen in via telephone, but the meetings are all but impossible to understand. You cannot tell who is saying what, when they are saying it, or to what they are referring. These meetings may as well be closed door executive sessions. County Council meeting accommodations are not much better.

There seems to be a lot of discussion revolving around business that takes place behind closed doors.


City Council passed a zoning request last year which, if pursued, would probably be overturned. But who has the money to fight “City Hall?”


Regardless of what the Mayor and City Council state, the zoning was passed for one reason only: to allow 60 apartments made for housing upwards of 200 people within an old, established single family neighborhood.


The property in question was originally zoned for commercial purposes. Had the property been rezoned for single family dwellings, there would have been NO public outcry or discord.


Our Mayor and City Council have duly elected or appointed the City of Abbeville Historical Society members and City of Abbeville Zoning Board. Both organizations are in place to study changes to properties which need to be upgraded or maintained to preserve their historical integrity.


Functions of the Zoning Board include studying and making recommendations as to changes that best suit the needs of the surrounding areas and to help maintain or increase property values.


The Historical Society said the location in question was not suited for an apartment complex and, although the property is not in Abbeville’s Historic District, it is within several hundred feet of Abbeville’s Historic downtown district.


The City of Abbeville’s Zoning Board studied and voted not to change the zoning to allow for 60 apartments. They knew that adding over 200 people to the area would all but destroy the tranquility of neighboring homes, not to mention the enormous traffic problems which would inevitably increase dangers and accidents.


The fact that these apartments will be low-income or government subsidized has no bearing on the fact that these proposed apartments do not belong in the neighborhood. It matters not if Donald Trump wanted to place a new Trump Tower in the same location. That would also be inadvisable: it would overwhelm the neighborhood with a similar negative outcome.


Let’s get back to the discussion concerning closed door sessions. When and where did the Mayor and Council members discuss, in open session, the findings of the zoning board? Why did the Abbeville Mayor and City Council members vote 100 percent against the recommendations of the two appointed boards who said this area was not suited for an apartment complex?


At no time do we remember City Council discussing why they thought this was the best area for the proposed apartments. There was a motion made, then there was a second to the motion and there was a vote. All members present voted to rezone for the APARTMENT COMPLEX. They will tell you all they did was vote to rezone, but they all know what would be located on the property.


Our government is supposed to follow the motto: “Of the people, for the people and by the people.” This vote had nothing to do with the people who already own their homes in the neighborhood and have to live with the outcome of such decisions.


Ask your Mayor and City Council members: WHY?


Had this zoning change been discussed in open session during a City Council meeting, we would know the answer to that very question!



Cartoon by Ron Coleman

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