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Sups express concern over initiative

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

A regional initiative that drew fire from a group of citizens when it was introduced three years ago is finding little support from Pulaski County Board of Supervisors either.

Quoting Thomas Jefferson, Ingles District Supervisor Ranny O’Dell summed up his feelings on the New River Valley Livability Initiative Monday by saying, “A government that’s big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all back.” His comments drew applause and amens from members of the audience.

O’Dell told Kevin Byrd, executive director of New River Planning District Commission (PDC), he hasn’t had “the first person speak positively about this” initiative.

The PDC is heading up the initiative, which Byrd told the supervisors in 2011 would allow a forum through which citizens could “shape the future of the region.” He said the purpose of the program is to “assist localities in planning for their future.”

O’Dell’s comments followed a presentation by Byrd, who told the supervisors he wasn’t seeking any action from the board. Byrd described the presentation as being for “informational purposes only.”

Supervisors Vice Chairman Charles Bopp of Robinson District said the initiative isn’t popular with his constituents either.

“It might be the greatest thing in the world,” Bopp said, adding that his constituents “don’t want or understand it.”

Bopp commended Byrd and the PDC staff for hard work put into the report, but he said it’s his belief the word “government” is what most sparks fear in citizens concerned about the Livability Initiative.

During a public meeting held in July 2011, some citizens referred to the initiative by terms such as “social engineering” or a “communist plan.” Many charged that participation in the initiative would result in the county forfeiting its governing ability to a regional entity and that it would interfere with private property rights, as well.

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