Supervisors restrict free speech

Published 12:34 pm Thursday, February 9, 2017

Buckingham supervisors’ decision to deny non-residents and those who don’t own land in the county from communicating their thoughts, feelings, concerns, compliments or complaints during public comment was a strike at free speech.

There are many stakeholders across the area whose voices deserve to be heard though their addresses may not list Buckingham County.

Various scenarios exist where this could be the case. One only need look through the minutes from the past year’s board meetings to understand that a number of topics brought up by the board have the potential to affect neighboring counties, from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline project to the construction of a solar energy facility. 

Though Buckingham is an independent jurisdiction from its neighboring counties, it is surrounded on all sides by counties which could be affected by decisions it makes or doesn’t make.

Counties, just like neighbors in a subdivision, are not exempt from those who live around them or the actions they take.

In order to work together, communication is key. Such is the case with those who may conduct business or travel frequently through Buckingham.

The supervisors are limiting themselves, their constituents and the entire county by refusing to hear the voices of their those who hold an interest.

While the intentions of limiting participation to only in-county residents may help give power to the voices of those who live and own land in the county, it is possible the repercussions of limiting free speech could be larger than anticipated.