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Editorial: Democracy at work
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It appears democracy is alive and well in Bryan County. It just takes a little work, sometimes.
We base that view on something that happened last week at a meeting of the Bryan County Planning and Zoning Board. Namely, a developer’s bid to have land rezoned so townhomes could be built near Keller was rejected by the board after dozens of residents who live near the proposed project spoke out against it.
If that’s not proof that people can make a difference in things that will impact their immediate neighborhoods, then we don’t know what is. Of course, those who spoke up against the development still have another hurdle to clear since the Bryan County Commission will have the final say so on the project.
That’s why it’s important for those opposed to the townhomes project to stay on top of this matter by keeping track of when the matter will be voted on by commissioners and attending that meeting as well. And if the matter is tabled, repeat the process.
That’s not to say we’re necessarily opposed to this project or any other. And we understand those who believe there’s a need for affordable housing in Bryan County. We also believe property owners have every right to do what they want with their property, so long as it doesn’t harm the environment, break the law or negatively impact the quality of life of those who live nearby.
Yet in this instance, and perhaps in others, defining a  negative impact depends largely on which side of whatever symbolic or real fence you might sit on.
But it seems to us those who live in the neighborhood where the proposed townhomes may go are the ones who will be impacted most. Because of that, it’s our opinion their view should count the most, since they’re the ones who’ll have to live with the result if the development is approved.
That’s why we applaud the Planning and Zoning Board’s decision. And that’s why we urge the Bryan County Commissioners to give careful consideration to the wishes of those who live near the proposed development.
One more thing. If what happened at the P/Z meeting is an indication, and we believe it is, of what can happen when residents show up at meetings and speak out, then perhaps it’s a lesson on getting involved that all of us should follow.
But it will take concerned residents who care about the overall quality of life in Bryan County and not just about what happens in their neighborhoods to make it happen. So again, attend government meetings whenever you can. Stay informed and keep your public officials accountable.
The Bryan County News
Feb. 8, 2007
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