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Did he really say that?

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By Stephen M. Stevick
Former Planning commissioner
District 5  

    Was Roger Cheek, Supervisor for District 3, misquoted or did he really say what was attributed to him?  
    According to the Bedford Bulletin of January 25, 2012, in reporting on the lawsuit of a citizens’ organization, BedfordAboveBoard (BAB), challenging the manner in which the Board of Supervisors (BOS) is advancing a comprehensive remake of the county’s Zoning Ordinance, Supervisor Cheek is reported to have said, “If they (BAB) don’t like what we are doing here, they can go.  I’m sure the road they came in on has a lane that goes in the opposite direction.” 
    Were this comment not consistent with the tone expressed by the BOS regarding public concerns about the manner in which it rushing to adopt new and radically different zoning ordinances, one would be inclined to dismiss it.  But consider the implications of such a position, which seems to be widely shared on the BOS:   
That the BOS, individually and collectively, is so intolerant of dissent that anyone that legitimately differs with it should leave the county, especially if you were not born here? 
That the BOS holds those who have moved here in such low regard as to constitute second class citizens, without the power to legitimately challenge its views?
    That the BOS is “business friendly” only to businesses owned by natives of Bedford?
    Is that the message the Bedford Chamber of Commerce wants to convey to new businesses being courted to move to Bedford?  Is it one we should proudly post in the reception area of all real estate offices in Bedford County, and on all real estate webpages inviting folks to move to Bedford County, so the potential newcomers understand exactly where they stand, should they choose to move here?
    Sadly, Mr. Cheek’s alleged comment is consistent in tone with the actions of the BOS.  Rather than welcome and encourage public input and objective analysis, the BOS has treated such input with hostility and disdain, even to the point of mischaracterizing the recommendations of its own Planning Commission (for example, Supervisor Arrington has repeatedly made the inaccurate assertion that the Planning Commission recommended the combination of R-1 and R-2 designations) and totally ignoring the County’s Comprehensive Plan, which represents years of study and analysis of what Bedford citizens want for their community.
    It is time for the BOS to step back and reconsider what it doing.  The BOS should reopen the process of rezoning to a more professional and transparent process that invites and honors public input and professional analysis.  In the meantime, the board as a body and Mr. Cheek in particular should disavow  such an outrageous position or expect to hear from the Chamber of Commerce, Bedford Board of Realtors and their constituents at the next election.