What is meant by governmental transparency? It means an open, accountable and honest government. Information on how officials spend taxpayers’ money and conduct the public business is a key component in transparency that must be readily available to its taxpayers.
There was a council discussion item in the December 4, 2017 council meeting to replace Ordinance 14-04, Section 30-673 where it states that Site Development Plans and Site Improvement Plans and amendments to those plans would be forwarded to the Planning Board for review and to make recommendations to City Council who shall review and make the final decision.
The discussion was to amend with a new Ordinance (18-XX) reverting back to a previous methodology where the Director of Community Affairs would administratively APPROVE those plans. This means that no one in the public is going to know what is being approved.
It also means that the public can’t hold their elected officials accountable. I seem to recall that most of the councilors ran on a platform of “transparency.”
The Planning Board is a quasi-judicial board that vets plans to insure that Land Development Standards and Ordinances, if applicable, are met. Under this process the public will be fully aware of the proceedings and how it may affect them. This transparency process insures that all commercial properties are made AWARE that the petitioner is not being afforded special consideration, resulting in a business advantage.
The City must insure a level playing field. Transparency in our local government is crucial and in this situation, Ordinance 14-04 should remain the way it was written and approved.