Thursday, October 27, 2011

October 25, 2011 Address to the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors

On Bent Mountain we are pleased that you have given time to reconsider the minimum decibel readings permitted at a non-participating property line. We remain, however, disappointed and disillusioned by the process you engaged in to adopt the large and utility scale wind turbine amendment to the Roanoke County Zoning Ordinance.

The minimum setback requirements that you have put in place will not sufficiently protect neighboring property owners in any site based application of the ordinance in Roanoke County.

The decommissioning section of the amendment is very weak in its protection of Roanoke County’s interests. The amendment you have adopted allows for financial protection for the County in the form of letters of credit and corporate guarantees or promises.

The amendment itself clearly accommodates the taking of land from adjacent property owners with the inadequate distance of 1000 feet from an occupied dwelling.

We must continue to respectfully ask that you revisit the entire amendment and revise the manner in which you would revise it for this highly complex and technical land use. This is not a land use in the Blue Ridge of Virginia that should ever be judged solely on the basis of uninformed public opinion.

Regretfully, our government on all levels has become corrupted by financial greed and media manipulation. A recent example can be found in a recent article regarding a Roanoke County personnel issue that is being inappropriately used as a political manipulation to discredit a current supervisor.

(Edit – Added extemporaneously in response to board comments.)

With regard to the observation made that over two years has already been spent by staff, the Planning Commission and Supervisors studying and crafting the ordinance; and that, the requirement of a Special Use Permit allows the opportunity for design standards to be made either more of less restrictive, two obvious questions must follow:

If the Supervisors as shown this evening, remain still unsettled regarding the appropriate minimums, how can the citizens have confidence that Roanoke County can protect them under the pressure of a Special Use Permit process?

Why does the ordinance define any minimum design standards at all?

Again, please repeal and reconsider these recent amendments to our zoning ordinance.

Attached, I have presented, for your consideration, some excerpts from:

Politicians Don't Pander: Political Manipulation and the Loss of Democratic Responsiveness (Studies in Communication, Media, and Public Opinion) [Paperback]
Lawrence R. Jacobs (Author),
Robert Y. Shapiro (Author)

Thank You

“…Public opinion polls are everywhere. The media report them without stop and polltica1 activists of all kinds- from candidates in election contests to political parties and interest groups- pump millions into focus groups and polls, The flood of polls has fueled the nearly unquestioned assumption among observers of American politics that elected officials "pander" to public opinion.

Politicians tailor their significant policy decisions to polls and other indicators of public opinion. Elected officials are faced with the terrifying choice of pandering or perishing in the next ejection and- as a 1997 article in the Atlantic Monthly exclaimed- are "running scared" and are settling for "poll readership".

The New Yorker nostalgically wished for the golden years of "the silent majority" as it bemoaned the current era in which "what the American people think trumps."

Political commentators and policymakers lament that the politicians who do exercise independence from public opinion are not reelected or drop out, and the officeholders who remain have stopped "deciding, and saying, what they themselves think" in their zeal to anticipate the reaction of future voters.

The enormous cost of "mass participatory democracy' is the abdication of responsible leadership that promotes the national interest, and the abandonment of the Framers' constitutional design for a more reflective, more considered form of government.