There’s been a lot of hemming and hawing by Roanoke City Council about the Mill Mountain Advisory Committee lately. One member, Councilman Ray Ferris, has finally come clean regarding his intentions for that panel.
Ferris wants to dissolve it, at Monday afternoon’s City Council meeting, and he’s put a three-page letter on City Council’s agenda explaining various reasons why.
One is that it’s become clear to him that the committee is “ad hoc,” rather than permanent. An ad hoc committee, Ferris writes in his letter, is formed for a specific purpose and “goes out of existence as soon as they have completed a specified task.” (click here to download the council agenda and read it, car-12-17-12.pdf, it’s agenda item 6A).
That’s an odd argument, given that City Council formed the committee resolution in 1976. Has council been so asleep at the wheel that they have neglected this for 35 years?
Another argument is that since City Council placed all except 8 acres at the top of the mountain under a conservation easement in 2009, the committee is not needed any more.
I’ve called Ferris and Roanoke Mayor David Bowers (the only council member who has spoken out in favor of continuing the committee as is) and am waiting to hear back from them.
To me, this smells like a payback from 2008, when the MMAC rejected Valley Forward’s proposal for 1) a conference center and hotel on the mountain top; and then, when that asinine idea fell flat; 2) an upscale restaurant and jazz bar up there. No businessperson ever came up with a serious offer to do either.
The issue of the committee’s future has come up at council meetings in October and November. Not one member of the public has spoken up in favor of abolishing the committee, but plenty have spoken in favor of continuing it.
If you want to contact council regarding this, you can find their phone number and email addresses here.
Here’s Ferris’ letter and proposed resolution: