At odds over meetings

Maverick Sussex County Councilwoman Joan Deaver is upsetting the tried-and true applecart at every turn. It seems she can’t stay out of the fire or the frying pan or even hot water by putting those good ole boy traditions to the test.
Her newest battle involves one about meetings and which ones, if any, are off limits.

As the councilwoman in the district with some of the most controversial land-use applications, she feels she needs to get out and gather as much information as possible.

That might require attending community meetings, meeting with small groups of constituents or attending planning and zoning commission meetings. She has attended those meetings in the past, including an Aug. 27 planning and zoning meeting and an Aug. 31 community meeting in Lewes.

But according to Council President Vance Phillips, she is walking an extremely fine line. Phillips says there is a long-standing policy that county council members do not attend planning and zoning meetings. And Deaver said county attorney Everett Moore told her it would be better to stay away from community meetings that deal with pending applications.

To date, Phillips has not produced the policy.

He has said several times that by attending planning and zoning meetings, council members could jeopardize their participation in council hearings.
So Deaver says she will continue to attend as many meetings as possible, place land-use matters on her website and keep constituents informed via email. She feels it’s part of her job to keep informed and to inform.

Deaver said a policy restricting council members from attending public meetings would be wrong to begin with.

There is no doubt the two council members do not see eye-to-eye on many topics, and this issue has only helped to widen the divide a little more.

Deaver wants the oft-cited policy brought into the light of day for all to see. Phillips says it’s under review by county legal staff.

Let’s hope there is a quick resolution so council can focus on the important business of running the county.

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