Bullying the new kid
Overall, I feel inspired by the public meeting regarding the permit application for Freeman Companies to continue its development of the old Coolfont property. Off-task as it was for that evening’s agenda, I learned a lot from the wisdom and concern offered by the speakers. I have always had an aesthetic appreciation for our local natural resources and gained a more technical understanding about them that evening.
The subject of the evening was supposed to be: “Has Freeman complied with current environmental laws?” But it apparently turned into: “Who is Morgan County’s next American Idol?” decided by an applause meter.
Though less than 10% of the presentation content remained on the subject of compliance, one thing became clear to me: Current environmental laws were the point of contention, not Freeman’s compliance (though prejudice may still cause some to remain confused).
Those who have been openly antagonistic towards Freeman since their arrival in the community now expect the company to be better citizens of Morgan County than they themselves have been.
Many speakers boasted proudly of moving to Morgan County many years ago. What remained unspoken was, “Since I have lived here, I have done nothing to effectively protect what is valuable until this opportunity for public opposition.
It was unfortunate that the physical space of the Ice House gave the appearance of an obvious divide in the community. I consider many in the audience to be generally proactive, but not in this case. No one could clearly state that Freeman had done anything in violation of publicly known and accepted laws.
I would love to bottle all the care and fervor I witnessed at that hearing and send it to Charleston, to start real pro-activism because the next developers may not have the environmental sensitivity that Freeman has proven to possess.
If the citizens of Morgan County continue to rest in the comfort of local forums and internet misinformation without effectively mobilizing to change current laws, then I am afraid they will become known as lazy, attention-seeking whiners who use political causes to satisfy social needs and will again attempt to bully the next new kid on the block.
If citizens are unsatisfied with current state and federal regulations, it is the citizens’ responsibility to implement satisfactory laws and stop attempting to make a scapegoat out of responsible developers.