Category Archives: Chocowinity
CHOCOWINITY – The maze is large and complex, as is the planning for a multi-week fundraising Fall Extravaganza, scheduled for a site known as ‘Raised In A Barn Farm’ which is just east of downtown Chocowinity on Hwy. 33.
Jane Lassiter Boahn, CEO and Founder of Raised In A Barn, is the spearhead and driving force. In a recent e-mail to this newspaper, Boahn wrote:
We hope to achieve a full community festival for six weeks during the fall. Dates are Sept. 25 thru Oct. 31, Fridays and Saturdays for the public corn maze and ‘Zombie Fright Nights’ on the last three weekends. We are looking for sponsors at all levels, including signage for our maze, T-shirts, flashlights for ‘flashlight maze night,’ and also all types of vendors.
Boahn added that funds raised are intended to benefit the Chocowinity Fire & EMS, 4H, and Angels N Camo.
For more information, to volunteer, or to become a sponsor, call Boahn at (252) 945-6153, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By BeaufortObserver.net Editorial Team | Special to the County Compass
CHOCOWINITY — A group of citizens has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Chocowinity in an attempt to correct what the suit alleges was a violation of the law in the June 3, 2014, decision of the Town Board to amend the municipality’s zoning ordinance.
The rezoning now allows a jail as a permitted land use in the Beaufort County-owned Chocowinity Industrial Park.
The citizens’ suit asks the court to nullify the board’s action on June 3 and to compel the town’s elected officials to follow the law in future decisions they may make.
The suit says that the way the board conducted the meeting deprived a number of Chocowinity residents and citizens from Beaufort County their right to attend the meeting and address the board in the public hearing.
The state’s Open Meetings law requires that people wishing to do so have a right to attend a public meeting and express their opinions in a public hearing. The problem in Chocowinity was that the June 3 meeting was conducted in a room too small to accommodate a large turnout.
The meeting was held in the regular meeting room of the Chocowinity Town Hall, forcing some to stand in a hallway with others being pushed outside.
A recent Court of Appeals decision said that such governing bodies must make “reasonable accommodations” when larger than usual crowds wish to attend a meeting. Chocowinity made no special accommodations even though it was obvious they expected a larger than normal crowd. Essentially, the town’s response was to try to limit the number of people who could participate.
The remedy for violating the Open Meetings law is that the action taken is null and void. The court can also order specific actions for future meetings to avoid a repeat violation. And the law allows the court to award attorney’s fees to the plaintiffs. The citizens group wants the Chocowinity Town Board to re-do the meeting all over again.
Harold Smith, Chocowinity resident and chairman of the Stop The Jail Committee, told the Observer:
“Our group took this action because we feel the Chocowinity Town Board violated the law. They held a required public hearing but did not conduct the meeting in such a manner that anyone who wanted to see what went on could do so and the way they operated denied some the right to speak. Both of those are violations of the law.
”But there is a bigger issue involved here than the meeting on June 3. It is the right of the people to know how their public business is conducted. If you watch the video of the meeting I think you will agree with some of us that the decision had already been made before the meeting ever started. And that typifies how many of the decisions about this jail have been made. Both the County Commissioners and Chocowinity Town Board have pretty much excluded the public from participating in the process. That is just not right. It’s the public’s business they are doing and the public should be involved if they wish to be involved by watching what is going on and to offer comments if anyone wishes to do so.
”I just think it is a sad day when ordinary citizens have to raise money and hire lawyers to make our public officials do the right thing and abide by the law. There are a number of other issues involved with this jail issue which we will be addressing as they move forward. But on this issue we felt we simply could not sit by and watch them violate the law and exclude the public from the decision-making process.”
Go to www.beaufortobserver.net to download a copy of the lawsuit, to watch the video of the meeting, and other articles on the proposed jail.
We trust our readers see the real issue here: The way our government does the public’s business. Both the Chocowinity Town Board and the one-vote lame duck majority on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners have demonstrated that they are afflicted with the same disease that prevails in Raleigh and Washington—the abuse of power.
The arrogance and elitism (we know what’s best for you) demonstrated by both of these groups of elected “representatives” is appalling. They are not put in these positions to make decisions based on what they want or think but rather they are elected to represent the people. That’s how a republic is supposed to work.
We’ll save for another day a lecture on how a republic is supposed to operate but suffice it to say here that the members of the Chocowinity Town Board (all of them) and the majority on the Board of Commissioners (Langley, Booth, Belcher and Klemm) should be ashamed of themselves. Just listen to the Chocowinity Commissioners who spoke and you’ll see what we’re talking about. Both Billy Albritton and Arlene Jones clearly demonstrated the worst of public service.
We think it very instructive that none of this would be going on if North Carolina had the recall of public officials. There is no doubt that enough people would petition to recall all nine of these “officials” and then — put to a vote — the people would remove them from office. We need such a process to deal with arrogant people who view themselves not as representatives but as omnipotent potentates who are willing to impose their ideas on the rest of us whether we like it or not.
The reason the Gang of Four county commissioners (who are railroading this jail) will not submit the issue for a referendum is because they know it will fail. But, they apparently think the public will forget about it before the next election.
We commend Harold Smith and those citizens who have worked to research and study the issues involved in this jail mess. We commend them for providing the leadership to allow people to express themselves by donating to the fund to take these elitists to court. This should be done more often and maybe the autocrats will eventually realize they are not omnipotent. We have had enough of such arrogance. It is high time We The People stood up for our God-given rights. We commend these fine citizens for doing just that. Thank you.