An error in judgment

Published 3:14 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Supervisors in Prince Edward County sent many messages to their constituents and those living across the region last Tuesday — all of which were negative.

The four supervisors who voted to kill an amendment to the county Zoning Ordinance which would have allowed homeless shelters to exist in the county with a special use permit erred in their judgment.

Buffalo Heights District C.R. “Bob” Timmons, Farmville 801 District Supervisor Pattie Cooper-Jones, Farmville 701 District Supervisor Jim Wilck and Hampden District Supervisor Dr. Odessa Pride voted in opposition of a motion to approve the change, which would have set in place a process to potentially allow certain facilities — such as a homeless shelter  to locate in specific parts of the county.

The fact of the matter is the Farmville Area Rescue Mission (FARM) was not applying to operate a homeless shelter on Back Hampden Sydney Road.

It would have fallen under the specific use, which, if approved, would have required a separate application and public hearings and vetting by both the county’s planning commission and board of supervisors.

Some supervisors combined the two matters — erroneously — which should have been kept separate.

“We’re here to represent all citizens. Not a few,” said Leigh District Supervisor Jerry Townsend during the meeting. “We’re in the business of helping people. That’s what it’s all about — helping people.”

We couldn’t agree more with Townsend.

Approving the use of transitional housing in certain agriculturally zoned districts wouldn’t have given a green light to homeless shelters. Instead, it would have created a vetting process for them.

Additionally, voters should see the split 4-4 vote as an opportunity to work hard to advocate for an at-large seat on the board of supervisors — one that will alleviate the even-numbered board from tie votes that result in deadlock.