Misplaced Transparency Worries Disrupt Montgomery Co. Thoroughfare Meeting

Jul 23, 2019

An early draft of the thoroughfare plan was published on the county website late last year.
Credit Courtesy: Montgomery County

A meeting to discuss an addition to the Montgomery County Comprehensive Plan was disrupted Monday night due to questions of transparency. The addition would cover road and infrastructure development.

Montgomery County officials and HWC Engineering scheduled the Monday meeting to gather public input.

But residents questioned the validity of the meeting, alleging it violated open meetings laws because there hadn’t been any notice in the local newspaper. Commissioner John Frey says that lessened its overall effectiveness.

“What this was is nothing to do with taking action, it was only to get feedback and input from people on where we’re at in the process today and show people what we’ve come up with so far,” Frey says.

The meeting was not in violation of the law, as only one commissioner – Frey – was present, and no action was taken.

The comprehensive plan was developed with the help of public input meetings that allow residents to voice their opinions on how the community should develop. The county is now working on a thoroughfare plan to reflect desires for road and infrastructure work – the type of meeting slated for Monday night.

Many residents have spoken out against zoning and planning, because of their perceived concerns about property rights. Frey says the plans don’t seek to regulate, but to create a guide for how the county might grow.

“A set of guidelines or rules that help all of our citizens understand what’s acceptable by a majority of our community and how to work together, how to keep arguments from ever starting to happen," Frey says.

Frey says what input HWC did receive supports what they’d heard in previous meetings with local officials. Residents want improved access to the north side of town by the Sheriff’s Department, as well as alternate routes to keep trucks out of the downtown.