MILLEDGEVILLE — An audience of nearly 90 people turned out to the courthouse last Tuesday as Baldwin County Commissioners discussed proposed amendments to the Safe Properties Ordinance.
Aside from hashing out details of the ordinance provisions themselves, an interesting event occurred — residents and county officials listened to each other and everyone was heard.
While no vote was taken on the proposal last week some valid questions and concerns were raised. Already there have been changes made to the ordinance since it was originally proposed. It would bode well for the county commission to take into consideration some of the other concerns residents raised last week and make additional edits if they deem them acceptable.
The dialogue between the county commission and their constituents was refreshing to see at last week’s meeting. The adjustments that have been made to the ordinanance indicate that county officials are listening and taking heed to residents’ concerns. As a next step county officials should expand the discussion to include issues and concerns with the current ordinance and what can be done to ensure that the existing guidelines are being enforced. That aspect needs to be a part of the conversation as well.
The proposed ordinance change aims to establish minimum requirements and standards for properties — in order to promote and protect the public health, safety, convenience, order and general welfare of the citizens of the county. This is not only for the benefit of county officials but also for those who live in the neighborhoods that surround them.
Local residents, particularly property owners, should be allowed to provide their input into this ordinance change as they had the opportunity to do last week. That’s why last week’s public forum was so important to the next steps.
County officials have attempted similar amendments in the past and have been met with resistance from residents. While there are some who are outright opposed to the county making any changes at all, some of the past resistance could have been related to residents feeling as if they were shut out of the process and not given a chance to have their say. This time, however, the process has been fluid thus far.