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July 2, 2012
An old friend of mine used to ask (rhetorically): “why don’t people just DO right?
For the past six months I have hoped the Oriental Town Board would just DO right. No luck so far.
It’s not right to sell or barter a right of way, which the town doesn’t own – it holds it in trust for the public. Once dedicated and accepted, a right of way is forever.
It’s not right to obtain waterfront property to improve public access to the water and not protect it with deed restrictions, conservancy or some other method (example: Lou-Mac Park) to remove temptation from future town boards to sell it.
It’s not right for a town board, faced with a contract of dubious legality (towns can’t sell or barter streets – contract looks like a sale) without seeking written advisory opinion from experts, such as School of Government and Attorney General.
If, for the sake of argument, the Attorney General advises that the contract is legal, it’s still not right not to follow scrupulously the provisions of North Carolina General Statutes (Section 160A, Article 12 – Sale and Disposition of Property). Waving arms and repeating “the right of way is worth NOTHING” doesn’t hack it.
It’s not right to sell or barter a public trust for purely private interests.
It’s not right not to tie the town’s hands. Hard as it may be to grasp, ownership of property by the Town is a private interest – the Town is a proprietor like any other concerning real estate parcels, but is only a trustee of streets. Town ownership doesn’t make a lot a public interest. That’s why citizens sometimes insist that town-owned property intended for public be protected by deed restrictions or otherwise.
It’s not right to focus on the outcome of a transaction and pay no attention to process. It is right process that makes a transaction legal, transparent and in the long-term public interest.
It’s not too late to make it right.
In regards to the land swap:
I’m at a loss to understand the opposition to this plan. I see it as a means to accomplish what we wanted in the first place which was for more land on the waterfront. More slips for visiting boaters!
Trading the lots give us a smaller piece of the pie but we can have more amenities on it to say nothing about having it sooner then originally thought.
Where would we get the money to dredge, bulkhead and build a pier?
I urge the governing body to do what it takes to proceed with the land swap.
(Previously posted in Letters at Reaction to Town Board Approving Land Swap Contract.)
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