Last Friday the Putnam County Commissioners held a public hearing regarding the widening of Road 5. The meeting was held as a formality to a resolution the commissioners passed on July 12.
The resolution on July 12 was done "in the abundance of caution" because nobody can find record of when a resolution should have been passed in either 1999 or 2000 when the studies for widening Road 5 began.
Currently, there is litigation regarding the legality of the procedures that were followed regarding this project. Residents along Road 5 are complaining that they have not been kept in the loop and that our county officials have violated Ohio's Sunshine Laws.
I can't say that current commissioners have done anything wrong here, but could it be possible that their predecessors did?
Let me stop myself right here and interject that I am in no way opposed to this project. I think that a lot of commercial trucks travel down that road and it needs to be wider to support the increased truck traffic. I also think that economic development is an important piece to supporting any local economy and in order to support the business on that end of the county we need a main thoroughfare through the county.
I think the residents are getting a fair price for their land as I saw the resolution with the monetary numbers listed. I think the county did their homework when it comes to what to pay residents for their property.
I attended the meeting held last Friday and at the end, I left feeling very frustrated. I think I felt frustrated because of they way the people were treated during that hearing.
The last time I checked, the purpose of a public hearing when governing officials are doing any type of project that affects the lives of residents is to hear support or opposition for the project.
During this meeting, the residents were given an opportunity to ask questions but before any county official could answer the question, the attorney representing the county would interject. The attorney advised county officials on how and when to answer certain questions.
At one time during the meeting, Daniel Ellis an attorney representing residents along Road 5 was told by a commissioner that he was no longer allowed to solicit questions.
Ellis objected by saying that his constitutional rights were being violated. I have to agree with him as I was shocked that people representing our county forgot that we stopped living in America and stopped living by the laws that our forefathers set before us, a law that clearly gives us the freedom of speech.
I have yet to attend a meeting that was held in the manner of which last Friday's hearing was held. It was clear to me that no matter what was said or what happened, the commissioners were not going to change their minds about this widening project.
I can understand the frustration the residents living along Road 5 as they seem to be screaming into an abyss.