Tea party activist Bob Bonsignore speaks at public hearing

Lydeana Martin outlines the plan

The 70 or so folks who appeared Tuesday night for a public hearing on Floyd County’s proposed update of its comprehensive plan overflowed the small meeting room of the county administration building on Oxford Street so the Planning Commission moved the event to the cavernous auditorium at Floyd County High School.

Scattered throughout the sprawling auditorium, the crowd didn’t appear that large — especially when compared to the turnout for a hearing on proposed tax increases earlier this year but while moderate in numbers they were loud in volume, expressing sometimes passionate opinions that ranged from condemnation of the proposed plan as a shill for socialism to lavish praise for those who have spent most of the past year putting the plan together.

The hearing occurred too late to make this week’s deadline for The Floyd Press so I will have a comprehensive story and more photos in next week’s edition.

As expected, some of the tea party faithful came out against the plan, calling it a conspiracy driven by the United Nations and its often-touted “Agenda 21.” The tea party opposes the sustainability movement, zoning, comprehensive land use planning and just about anything else it sees as a threat to individual rights.  Some used the floor to lambast President Obama and his controversial health care plan. Others quoted the Bible.

Bob Bonsignore, a tea party activist and transplant from New Jersey, claimed the plan was driven by the United Nations, which he called “anti-American” and at war with the U.S. and Israel.

Some long time residents also condemned the plan, calling it a threat to individual property rights.

Several speakers praised the plan, calling it well-conceived and an asset to the county. Mike Burton, executive director of Sustain Floyd, said the plan would help the county as it moves into the future.

Towards the end the hearing devolved into a debate with speakers repeating themselves and going to the microphone more than once to veer off course from the original intent of the hearing. Some in the audience shouted “no” when someone said something they disagreed with or cheered when they agreed.  Three women from Pulaski County issued dire warnings against a New River Valley consortium on sustainability.

A deputy sheriff stood by in case things got out of hand. She wasn’t needed.

The comprehensive plan is nothing more than a guide for the county’s future. It contains — for the most part — recommendations and guidelines and it not a binding law or set of hard and fast regulations.  County residents should read the plan, available online, and make up their own minds rather than accept anyone’s interpretation of the document.

The planning commission took no action Tuesday night but will consider comments from the public hearing before approving a final version of the plan and sending it to the board of supervisors, which will hold another public hearing before final consideration.

The Floyd County Planning Commission

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