December 09, 2023

LETTER: My review of meetings

Juli Cooper


As an Adams County citizen, who has attended 30 plus meetings since Feb. 21, I have become increasingly confused by the direction our elected officials are pursuing and the procedural practices at meetings of our local government - - the Adams County Board of Supervisors (BOS).

In my opinion, it has been made difficult for the public to ascertain meeting details and events within the board room itself. The public won’t read any updates in the newspaper because Chairman Leland Shipley made the decision to remove the public comment line item on the weekly agendas on Oct. 23; and even if there were public comments allowed, the public would not read it in the newspaper in the legal section, as previously submitted for years, because it’s been months since our auditor made the decision not to include public comments in the meetings’ minutes. Both of these actions do unfortunately raise the difficulty level for the general public to be informed.

Now if you can take off from work every Monday morning at 9 a.m. to attend the BOS meetings, you can have the privilege of watching our board in action but remember - no comment.
Newest developments from Nov. 6 meeting are:
1) Following a closed session, the BOS announced Adams County Engineer/Zoning Administrator Charles Bechtold resigned effective June 2024.

2) Adams County Comprehensive Plan from 1966 - which supports agricultural conservation, wildlife and nature preservation, and discourages industrial scatter-is being amended with a single renewable energy chapter; so it will be compatible with and reflect the content of the wind and solar ordinance draft orchestrated by out-of-county, out-of-state lawyer David Levy (Baird Holm Law) hired by BOS; and let’s remember the ordinance draft (on-line at Adams County government website) was inappropriately worked on for months by the BOS first; then, under the instructions of David Levy (7/24/23), the BOS referred the ordinance writing to the Adams County Zoning Commission because Adams County is a county with zoning. Then the Zoning Commission held only two meetings. (Sept. 19-no public comment allowed and Oct. 16-public had 3-minute comment time each); but the entire ordinance draft, inclusive of wind and solar energy, was created (magically?) and posted on the county website prior to Oct. 16.

3) The County Comp. Plan and Ordinance have to be compatible; and NOW, after the BOS represented to legal attorney David Levy that they had secured SICOG to develop a new Comprehensive Plan (8/21/23); our BOS has hired (10/30/23) Confluence (yet another agency) to assist with the Amendment to the Comprehensive Plan in a 4 mtg. timeframe scheduling one meeting per month starting Dec. 11, Jan. 15, Feb. 19, March 4. If you look ahead, first three meetings are on Mondays at 5:00 p.m. and last meeting is a Monday at 9:00 a.m. - surprise - hope that works for the public since development of a County Comprehensive Plan requires public input. Also, if you read the Supervisors minutes from Oct. 23 printed in the November 9th newspaper legal section, a reader will see that Chris Shires from Confluence met virtually with the Board to discuss the Renewable Chapter for the Comprehensive Plan; but what it fails to state is David Levy (refer to person above if you are lost by now) was also present via Zoom and although it was discussed to have a Steering Committee (consisting of 8-12-16 community members) created to gather and develop public input to assist with the endeavor to create a Renewable Energy Chapter in Adams County 1966 Comp. Plan; it was decided by the BOS and David Levy that choosing to bypass the creation of a Steering Committee and assigning the Amendment writing duty ALSO to the Zoning Commission could reduce the writing/creation timeframe to the outlined 4 mths. schedule.

4) Moratorium (a halt to new projects being permitted) was motioned by Tony Hardisty stating he had been involved in “discussions with Invenergy” concerning this topic (moratorium), and Supervisor Hardisty was reassured by Invenergy through that discussion “a moratorium would not be detrimental to their (Invenergy) project.” No mention of the requests for months by constituents or landowners for said moratorium, just the wind energy company’s opinion was discussed.

In my opinion, it would have been more appropriate to have had the discussions with the public or at least the 940 plus moratorium petition signers, as they are the voting body that elected our supervisors, not Invenergy. Perhaps constituents’ and landowners’ concerns, requests and opinions for safety, health, and environment of this county do not rank as high of a priority as our neighboring counties’ governments rank their citizens; as our neighbors to the east and west have enacted and continue to have moratoriums in place- Montgomery County (11/8/23) extended theirs indefinitely while ordinances were being worked on and Union County still has theirs (started 3/2023) in place. Standley seconded moratorium motion; Moratorium brought to vote; passed with only one opposing vote, Scott Akin. Bobbi Maynes abstained, as she recused herself from discussion and voting regarding turbine projects (5/15/23), citing conflict of interest (possible financial gain).

5) The moratorium time frame is a short four months - surprise - just long enough to get those four meetings for the County Comprehensive Plan Amendment done .