List Serve Alert – Town of Norwich
Is everyone in Norwich aware that the Planning Commission has submitted a
plan to the Select board without having done any professional impact
The Planning Commission claims that the 350-acre “Village” that
has been proposed for “development”, is not in the current plan that has
been submitted. However, the development of the 350 acres along Route 5
South, River Road, and Route 5 North, is still very much alive. Norwichians
need to get informed and involved. The Selectboard has scheduled two
hearings on the current version of the Town Plan: January 20, 2018 and
January 23, 2018. Why so close together – three days apart?
Norwich citizens need to attend these meetings and start asking questions to find
out the answer to this question – and many questions.
You all also need to educate yourselves on the negative affects of massive development,
especially in a small town like ours. Just imagine: daily traffic jams on
Route 5 South; imagine if the cost of services that accompany any such
development usually ends up costing tax payers more because the “rewards” of
the development do not even come close covering the demand for expanded
services such as police, fire, water, sewer, etc. That shortfall will have
to be made up by you, the tax payers of Norwich.
At the end of the day, we are lucky our town has outspoken citizens willing to spend time paying attention and asking questions. 99% of the time I really am eagerly listening, wanting to make sure people know they are being heard and that their voice counts. As an elected official, it’s also my job. Just as it has been my job, and my passion, as CEO of Boloco for nearly 21 years.
In my first months as Selectboard member, I assumed that those speaking had been ignored because that’s what they were often saying – and some had. I took their words at face value. I dug in and listened with every fiber of each of my ears. It felt good and I learned a lot from this exercise. I’ve made friends as a result, too. I encouraged people to speak up, to voice dissent, and I felt an obligation to shut down those who were possibly trying to silence these voices of the public (whether it was intentional or simply habit to try to move meetings along, I can never be sure).
But here’s the thing. Just because each of us has the legal right and human ability to speak up does not mean that always doing so is in anyone’s best interests. Speaking up on anything and everything is actually very rarely helpful. Nobody knows everything, and doing so takes away from the areas one might actually be an expert in and be able to make contributions to. And, I have to say this, publicly smacking down town employees as well as elected and appointed officials (mostly volunteers) is something that should be reserved for only the most egregious of situations.
Some, not all, of the voices who show up regularly at town hall meetings are there to play watchdog on how the town is run. That, in and of itself, is fine, and although I wish they trusted us more, I understand there are historical reasons why this isn’t always possible. But when the minutia of each action or discussion are picked apart over and over again, by the same voices, with distrust and conviction of foul play in their words and their tones, this is no longer helpful. It’s hurtful.
“But, Pepper, people have the right to share their opinions!” I’m reminded repeatedly.
Yes, they do. But should they always? Is it always wise to share your opinion? Speaking from personal experience in countless situations, I am positive the answer is an emphatic no. Wouldn’t it be terrific if instead of glaring at us and saying things like “we are watching you… we have our eyes on you”… people stood up and acted as our partners, our allies, and offered to respectfully help town employees and volunteers do the work that needs to be done. We are elected, sure, and therefore subject to whatever people choose to throw our way, but we aren’t superhuman and we can’t possibly do everything that is requested of us. We are elected to office, not because of our direct experience necessarily, but because of our hopefully good intentions and our ability to sift through endless amounts of information and make reasonable decisions on behalf of the town. It’s a lot harder than I thought.
Back to the very beginning of this post… the sun is now up and shining, the day calls. For anyone who really wants to read more about sinister governmental activities, perhaps turn to FOX and CNN, or order a copy of my brother’s recently released novel, political thriller “The People’s House”. That will more than adequately satisfy even the most distrusting imaginations, believe me 😉
“Much like author John Grisham did for law firms, Pepper pulls back the curtain on how local political races really work. The result: A can’t-put-it-down novel that’s part thriller and part reason to pay attention to the election process — no matter where you live.” – Cincinnati Enquirer