Letter to the Editor – Are We Citizens, or Mere Subjects?

The Enterprise Mountaineer – November 24, 2021

I am writing this in response to the editor’s article ” Lend a hand, not an insult” which appeared in the November 17, 2021 edition of the Mountaineer.

What the editor fails to realize is that most criticisms levied toward the Town of Waynesville’s Planning Board were done precisely out of a genuine concern for the future of our community.

 Advisory boards can play a useful role in our community.  To be appointed to such a board is an honor that should be accepted and carried out with a considerable degree of solemnity.  The idea is to have an assemblage of citizens who care enough about their community to not only volunteer their time,  but also draw upon their own expertise, observations, and life experiences to offer workable ideas.  

 The process can be difficult if for no other reason that  we as humans have our own perspectives on matters. But thoughtful deliberation is necessary.

The planning board unfortunately has failed to tap into its own resource pool of wisdom. Instead,  it has taken the rubber stamp approach of simply seeing whether the minimum amount of boxes were checked by the mystery developer in accordance with “master plan guidelines”, and granting approval. 

With the exception of one member, the board simply shirked its responsibility to thoroughly review the substantial negative impacts the proposed development on the Sunnyside/Queen property would have on traffic, infrastructure,  and aesthetic compatibility with the rest of our community.

 Shouldn’t citizens who care enough about their communities to show up and speak out have some say in matters that directly impact them? After all,  the citizens are the ones who are going to be living here in the aftermath,  not the mystery developer. Or should all decisions be dictated by  foolishly blind adherence to master plans that never were meant to be chiseled in stone?

The citizen who cares about his community should never ever stop speaking out, whether those in positions of power and influence like it or not.

Erich Overhultz
Waynesville, NC