BOC approves legislative goals, hosts public hearings

Posted 9/25/20

At the Chatham County Board of Commissioners’ regular session meeting on Monday, the board discussed legislative goals to submit to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and hosted …

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BOC approves legislative goals, hosts public hearings

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Posted

At the Chatham County Board of Commissioners’ regular session meeting on Monday, the board discussed legislative goals to submit to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and hosted three public hearings: a quasi-judicial hearing for a request by the Chatham County Emergency Operations director for a new 325-foot communications tower, a legislative hearing for a request by Campbell Towing and Recovery, Inc. for a general use rezoning and an additional legislative hearing for a conditional rezoning request by Arylex Properties, LLC.

The meeting ­— which had a work session at 2 p.m. and regular session at 6 p.m. — was held at the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center and live-streamed over the GoTo Webinar video platform.

During the work session, the commissioners emphasized the importance of their legislative goals to expand broadband and Medicaid access, saying those needs have been especially underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic. While deciding how to rank their priorities, board Chairperson Karen Howard emphasized the fact that all the priorities were crucial, asking the board to weigh which items had the most direct impact on individuals. Commissioner Jim Crawford echoed that sentiment, seemingly referencing criticism about board spending from Republican commissioner candidates.

“This seems to all be necessary spending if the purpose is the well-being of people in our community,” Crawford said.

During the regular session, the board approved a request to adopt a resolution proclaiming September 2020 as Hispanic Heritage Month. Howard read the resolution first in Spanish, then English, thanking members of the Hispanic Liaison present at the meeting to witness the passing of the resolution for their continued partnership with the county.

“We hope to continue to be an ally in this fight that affects all of us,” Howard said.

During the public input session, two citizens signed up to speak: Valerie Broadway and Douglas Sedlak. Broadway, who gave remarks at the board’s last regular session meeting, urged the board to dedicate mental health resources to the homeless population in the county. Sedlak, of Pittsboro, criticized the Chatham County Board of Health’s decision to declare structural racism as a public health crisis, likening the statement to the behavior of “police states” and claiming the board’s discussion was secretive.

Crawford addressed these remarks during his commissioner report at the end of the meeting, reading the board’s statement, defining what “health disparities” means and providing myriad examples of such disparities in Chatham.

“Using the word ‘crisis’ is meant to stimulate this discussion,” he said. “We are doing some of the right things, but we need to do more and we need to reckon with the fact that history is how we got here, a long history. I will assert that it is an inequity to obfuscate, deny or obstruct the discussion of this issue — and that’s not new, it’s just wrong.”

All three of the public hearings were referred to the planning board without any public discussion from speakers or members of the planning board. The board’s next work and regular session meetings are scheduled to take place Oct. 5 at the Historic Chatham County Courthouse, according to the county’s website.

Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at hannah@chathamnr.com.

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