The County Commissioners failed on the master plan

Here’s a question.

If a plan is formulated based on robust voter input and if that plan is the pillar on which the representative of that area is elected by nearly 75 percent of the voters in his district and if the voting body has been discussing wanting the elements of this plan for nearly a decade, should the elected body representing those citizens approve it?

Yes. Right?

But that is not what happened, and now the County Commissioners owe all of us an apology for what they did to the District 4 Master Plan.

The entire meeting disintegrated into a battle of semantics, but in the world of legalese, semantics matter. So, leave it to the lawyer sitting on the board (Lane Lynchard) to formulate a motion that essentially means absolutely nothing.

“Acknowledged receipt.” They basically just voted to agree that Matrix Design Group did in fact present a plan that we, the tax payers, paid $150,000 for. No action. Just “we got it.”

For years, the citizens of Navarre have been begging for better planning. A shred of hope that things could be different was dangled in front of their faces for 19 long months. Then it was snatched away in a single evening.

One commissioner wondered aloud how the headlines would be interpreted after the fact. Imagine how they are interpreting the choice to do nothing. Imagine how the citizens of Navarre, who carry the largest voting sway in the county, interpret the decision to take a document built on their input and outright refuse to accept it.

And the concerns raised about whether or not enough people commented and how there will always be someone who didn’t hear about it are foolish.

Stop pandering to the lowest denominator. The planning process was pushed out on social media, in meetings, through community groups, in churches, in this newspaper and other media, etc., etc.

People cannot be forced to engage in the process. They cannot be forced to pay attention or to care. If they really wanted to weigh-in and be a part, they would have and did. They must choose that for themselves. Stop punishing those who did put in the work and make themselves informed for the sake of not offending those who lived with their heads in the sand.

And based on the number of direct commenters alone, this is the most robust public input a county project has had from the citizens of Navarre in years. That is not accounting for the thousands of citizens that voiced their agreement through their representatives at the Chamber of Commerce, in their Homeowners Associations and through voting for a candidate who ran on this kind of planning.

As for the concern expressed about government placing undue regulation on development, it has been the wild, wild west in Navarre in so many ways, and the District 4 Master Plan is a reflection of the citizens saying enough is enough, not in my town anymore.

That doesn’t sound like government overreach to us. It sounds like the public saying what the public wants.

Voting to “acknowledge receipt” is just an underhanded way of saying “not going to happen.”

It boils down to the commissioners not grasping that this is a long, long range plan. It will take years and even decades of incremental work, individual projects and holding the line to bring about the kind of community highlighted in the master plan.

This is a continuing problem in this county. Rather than take the long, but far less glamorous approach to improvements, the commissioners grab at the easy, sparkly items before them.

We will be for the board to do what they were elected to do in the first place and bring the plan back for a vote of approval.

Acknowledge that we need a plan. Acknowledge that we need to think far beyond the next four years. Acknowledge that solid planning carries far more sway than commissioner’s worries about public image. Acknowledge that the Jan. 24 Special Rezoning meeting was a mistake.

Adopt the plan.

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