On Wednesday evening I attended our TOSL board meeting. Two of the main agenda items were the Plan and Review Committee recommendation for a change to town’s camping ordinance and the ATV/UTV survey results.
The PRC, after a public hearing, hours of time spent, ample public participation, came up with a very decent compromise. This was brought to the board for approval. Our town Chairman refused to have a vote on it and informed the Chairwoman, Bobbi Huot, that she needed to take it back to the drawing board. In part, it didn’t give him what he wanted. Just one example of our voices not being heard.
The second agenda item was the results of the ATV/UTV survey that was sent out to every property owner in the town. I was astounded at the number of responses that were received. This was an issue that many property owners felt strongly about. Over 900 property owners responded. Tim Sheldon one of the members of the ATV/UTV committee who were tasked with creating the survey and getting it out to all property owners, had been chosen by the committee to give the presentation. The Power Point presentation made all of the answers and responses visible to those attending. The response to the survey was overwhelmingly against allowing ATV/UTVs on our town roads. Two to one was the tally.
Despite the majority of our residents not wanting ATV/UTVs allowed on town roads our Town Chairman was the deciding vote in allowing them. Of course our first clue should have been that an ordinance had been drafted prior to the meeting and was available to the public when they arrived.
Why is the majority rule important? The principle of majority rule has several functions. For one, it establishes a clear mechanism for making decisions. A majority of 50 percent plus one decides an issue or question. This ensures that when decisions are made more people are in favor than against. Majority rule is a decision rule used most often in influential decision-making bodies, including all the legislatures of democratic nations.
Majority rule is one of the founding principles of Democracy. Yet our town board and our chairman made the decision to ignore approximately 65% of the property owners to give his core supporters and a fellow board member what they wanted, in spite of the survey results.
What I find additionally disturbing is that it was very clear that this decision was made prior to receiving the results of the survey. So I ask our town chairman, John Leighton. Why was the taxpayers money spent on compiling and mailing the survey if you were going to ignore the results? Another example of tax monies being wasted.
This is one of the reasons I am running for Supervisor. We have to be the stewards of this town and its many lakes and forests which are irreplaceable. This very quality of life is what drew so many of us here. Every year more and more seasonal residents become full-time residents. Why? Because they have come to love and appreciate what this “Jewel of the North” has to offer.
It’s important that as our town moves forward into the future that decisions made for change must be thoughtful and researched to assess the financial and environmental impact that would occur. We need to have more of our residents involved and start to create a working relationship with one another. Committees that bring us together as neighbors. The current “us versus them” is destructive.
The ATV/UTV committee is proof that working together with one another, who have differing opinions can work. This is what we need in our town governance. Together we can maintain this jewel for the generations to follow.