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Open letter to mayor and commissioners

Open Letter to mayor and town commissioners.  (On Jan. 5, Commissioners Denis Bilodeau and Jim Duke voted against the 199-foot cell tower that will go up at 19320 Lake Norman Cove Drive. Voting in favor were Commissioners Mike Miltich, Thurman Ross and Tricia Sisson)

Jan. 25. By Ron Kelley. I spent the last week thinking about what happened at the last Board Meeting. I usually communicate with the Board about positive things. This letter is not one of those. We have a problem that has been growing for some time now. That problem is that we as citizens are repeatedly told to participate. We are asked to fill out surveys. We are told to come to Board Meetings and speak about issues. We have over and over done just that.

However, we have repeatedly been rewarded for this participation and input by the Board voting to approve things that the overwhelming majority did not want.

The approval of the 199-foot cell tower is the latest example but not the only one by far. This did not have to be approved. The surrounding communities overwhelmingly felt the location was inappropriate. HOAs spoke out against it. People spoke out against it. People living next to it objected. The citizens voiced their objection in the media using things like Cornelius Today (Jan. 21) Sound Off. The two Commissioners that live directly in the area impacted (both of which have served as the President of The Peninsula HOA for years) voiced their objection.

Cell tower vote: ‘Deeply disappointing’

Don’t you think if the people that supposedly might benefit from the tower wanted it, the majority would have supported it? But no matter, the three Commissioners that DO NOT LIVE in the area, chose to ignore all this and voted to approve it. Sadly this is no longer shocking but is deeply disappointing.

Cell tower simulation: PeakNet MonoPole off Jetton

So what is the impact beyond the Tower itself? First, is to what Cornelius is about and a community that cares. Over the years, I have attended dozens of Board Meetings to praise Town operations and speak out about concerns.

A change

However, over the last five years things have changed. For example, I used to be able to encourage/bring other people to Board Meetings and get them to participate. Now I cannot get one person to come with me….NOT ONE.

The comments are always the same.…you are wasting your time…..that is a fool’s journey…what is the use…..I tried that and it was a wasted effort……they don’t listen….etc.

You get the drift. People care but no longer feel their voices are valued or even listened to.

Represent us. Please.

That is not good for the community. Second, we have a representative form of government.

We do not get together in the middle of the Westmoreland baseball fields and count hands.

We elect people that are supposed to represent us and get what we want done. In short, it is the job of our representatives (Commissioners) to carefully listen to what the voters want and take actions that support the desires of the majority.

The Board over the last five years has veered more and more away from that.

Think of it this way, how many of you believe you would have secured enough votes to be on the Board if you had said….just want you folks to know if someone proposes putting up a 199′ Tower where the shorter one is now, I will vote FOR it whether you want it or not and regardless of what the majority wants?

Read that again and think about it.

I talked with a past Commissioner last week. I asked this ex-Commissioner, how does this happen? The response was that the Board evolves into a thinking mode in which they come to think they know more than the voters/citizens and a good portion of the time decide what they think is best. That is exactly what things look like. The citizens/voters don’t know what is good for them.

Failure to listen

Our country is being torn apart by a number of things. However, one of the core things is a failure to listen and actions taken that say “we know what is good for you”. That is not good and I find it sad that it has worked its way into the Town of Cornelius. We can and must do better.

The failure to do so will not have a good outcome.

So what to do now…

1.) Don’t do surveys, have public meetings or similar things and then ignore the results. That has happened far too often and further damages community input, builds resentment, and promotes a lack of civil discourse.

2.) Recommit to representing the people that put you into office to represent them. Think…Would the people that voted for me have voted for me if they knew I was going to vote FOR this?

3.) Lose the idea of “they will get over it”. It just builds resentment and then we get uncivil discourse. This thinking makes it harder to reach consensus, compromise and trust.

4.) Start to repair where we are by putting the Tower question back on the Agenda for the next Board meeting and vote to disapprove it . Then tell the Tower folks to look for other locations. There are several.

I take no joy in sending you this note. None. Some would say I am wasting my time. However, I feel I must try. We need to do a course correction and get back to the fundamentals. I urge you to really think about the above. Our future depends on it and faith in our representative form of government depends on it.


Ron Kelley

Kelley is a long-time resident of Cornelius. Meanwhile, a change in where cell towers may be built is also under consideration. Click here to read Dave Vieser’s Jan. 25 story.