C. Duane O’Neal
commissioner, Greenwood Advisory Plan Commission
To the editor:
On March 19, the Daily Journal published a letter in which William and Eileen Hammond allege ill-treatment of city residents at the hands of the Greenwood Advisory Plan Commission.
Additionally, they imply that the plan commission, during a public meeting, approved the construction of a two-story apartment building. In reply, I counter that neither assertion is an accurate representation of the actions taken during the meeting. Contrary to the Hammonds’ assertion, the use of the property for an apartment building was never at issue because the property has been properly zoned for this use for years.
The issue under consideration during the meeting was the elimination of a lot line between two existing lots. The plan commission is bound to evaluate this request in terms of compliance with city ordinances and state law.
The adjacent neighborhood did not point out any aspects of the request that were inconsistent with established law but expressed an understandable displeasure with the possible construction of an apartment building. Even though many members of the plan commission had reservations with the eventual use of the property, in this instance they had no alternative but to approve the request.
The Greenwood plan commission, as with every elected or appointed government body, is obligated to act in accordance with legal rules, ordinances, statutes and laws. The Hammonds and their neighbors would have been well-served had they consulted counsel prior to attending the hearing.
If they had done so, perhaps they would have presented a legal argument for their position on which the plan commission could have acted. Unfortunately, the arguments they made did not address the issue under consideration by the plan commission, and mischaracterizations and inaccuracies aside, do not alter our responsibility to follow the law.
My fellow commissioners are always very sensitive to the views of our community when deciding upon land-use issues. Members of the plan commission are ordinary citizens providing oversight to city government, just like the Hammonds did at the public hearing in defense of their property.
I hope the Hammonds and their neighbors, even though they disagree with the decision of the plan commission, come to understand that the commission members are bound by our oath and by legal principles to follow the law. Our hope is that they will eventually respect our service and actions in support of Greenwood, even if they are disappointed with the outcome in this particular case.