Closed-door meetings, private deals
We start this week with the latest development in the story of the City of Wilmington’s deal with the Village at Mayfaire. While many readers objected to the city’s extensive efforts to negotiate with developers, rather than to enforce the ordinances on the books, that’s only part of the story.
The other part of the story? Government transparency.
For example, when reporters called Wilmington earlier this month to ask about negotiations, city staff failed to mention that a deal had been signed a week earlier, despite city emails that showed at least some of those staff members were aware of the deal.
Further, the deal itself was signed during a closed session of a public but obscure meeting known as an agenda briefing; the meetings are poorly attended, because they’re held on Monday mornings, and at least one city council member has publicly said they should be a place for discussion, not binding action. And yet, several closed-door deals with developers have taken place in these meetings.
Teen Mom Shenanigans
A totally different kind of frustration: the long history of Jenelle Evans, a former cast member of MTV’s “Teen Mom,” managing to wriggle out of legal trouble. That appeared to be the case on Friday when the Wilmington Police Department said that, despite its best efforts, it had no legal standing to press charges against Evans and her husband, David Eason, after the two towed a truck from a parking spot (an act which appears to have been illegal) in downtown Wilmington and filmed it.
That changed Friday evening, when the vehicle’s owner showed up at police headquarters to press charges.
What’s going on at Jervay Communities?
Next, we get into the apparent abuse of homeowners and renters at the Jervay Communities. Emails from the Wilmington Housing Authority (WHA) and interviews with residents revealed that many living at the private-public development have been paying HOA fees for years. Over the course of a decade — or longer — some residents have paid upwards of $6,000.
The problem? The HOA doesn’t exist — and despite the fact that the private owners of Jervay are legally obligated to set one up, and efforts of three different WHA leaders, nothing has been done about it.
Lidl comes to Eastwood Drive
The German grocer — known for the same no-frills approach as rival Aldi — pulled a number of planned stores from around North Carolina this year, but it seems one planned for Eastwood Road is still moving ahead.
The city of Wilmington took the grocer’s plans as an opportunity to get some road work done, in a deal similar to several other agreements along the Eastwood corridor.
Carolina Beach takes a cue from Facebook poll
Several weeks ago, when Port City Daily reported on Carolina Beach finances, we mentioned a Facebook poll that drew comments from two of the town’s councilmembers. Some government officials reacted negatively, mocking the use of Facebook as a “new source.”
However, the town has clearly paid attention to the poll, because council recently created an ad hoc committee to study a potential project to bury power lines — citing the idea as one of the most popular suggestions on the Facebook poll.
It’s one more example of the changing role of social media in local government, an issue that may call for a much deeper look.
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