To the editor:
SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!
While most of the people were in their cozy homes on Wednesday evening, March 10, the Wilmington Zoning Board of Appeals approved the building of 27 townhouses by the First Columbia developers on Bowman Road, aka the beach road. What a shame that the hundreds of people who don’t agree with this didn’t make their opinions known. The attempt by means of a petition was not recognized because it wasn’t a “proper petition,” so that was easy for the ZBA to dismiss as invalid.
It was obvious to those of us who did attend some of the meetings that the ZBA didn’t care where the majority of the town residents stood on this issue. In the 42 years I have lived here I have not seen anything that comes close to this recent hot topic, but the ZBA did not want it to be open to a vote by all the residents. They wouldn’t even go as far as to ask for a show of hands at the public hearing at Whiteface or before they voted on the 10th. They said that anyone could have signed in to speak at the Whiteface meeting. Not everyone feels comfortable speaking to a board or a crowd of people. I knew that others would be expressing my sentiments, so I didn’t want to take up more time. Now I know that more of the residents should have spoken. What a shame.
When the two-hour meeting at the community center came to a conclusion, everyone on the ZBA was in favor of the so-called variance except for Bob Girardin. He made some very valid points, which were much appreciated by many people. Since it wasn’t a public hearing, no one was supposed to speak unless, of course, they wanted you to. The variance could have easily been for two units. The developer could build six buildings with three units per building, and the ZBA still would have had the control it so adamantly wanted. There could be numerous alternatives that would have been much more acceptable. With 27 units there is the possibility of an influx of 300 people. That’s a lot of flushing toilets as well as canoes and kayaks on the river. The people on the ZBA, all business owners, don’t use the beach, so why would they care how crowded the area is? But will it make a difference to you?
Now that the deed is done, the can of worms for development is even more open. The people need to be better informed. Don’t let a few make all the decisions for all. If you don’t make your opinions known in the future, that would be the greatest shame of all.