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Neudofer resigns

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Other supervisors react to his move

By John Barnhart

    In a surprise move, Chuck Neudorfer, District 2 supervisor and board of supervisors chairman, resigned near the end of a board meeting, Tuesday night, and left before the meeting ended.
    The action followed his fellow supervisors’ refusal to ratify his appointment of William Piatt to the District 2 slot on the planning commission. That slot came open due to Lynn Barnes’ resignation last month.
    Neudorfer called for a voice vote after the nomination and became the lone “aye.” The others, minus District 4 Supervisor John Sharp, who was absent, cast very loud “no” votes.
    “I  have   trouble  accepting that vote,” Neudofer said. “In the time I have sat on this board I have never seen anyone nominated by a supervisor rejected.”
    Neudofer asked the other supervisors to explain their votes. District 1 Supervisor Bill Thomasson and District 5 Supervisor Steve Arrington had no comment.
    District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek likened putting Piatt on the planning commission to putting “the fox in the hen house.”
    “He has a lawsuit against the county,” commented District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard. “He signed the lawsuit.”
    Piatt was one of three men who signed a transmittal letter from Bedford Above Board, dated Dec. 19, 2011, to the board of supervisors informing them that Bedford Above Board might take legal action against the county. The letter alleged that the supervisors did not provide proper legal notice prior to a public hearing last year on the supervisors’ proposed changes to the zoning ordinance. Bedford Above Board filed a lawsuit on Jan. 18, 2012, and Piatt served as spokesman and media contact for the group.
    Neudorfer said that Piatt has withdrawn from Bedford Above Board.
    “Back in January he started participating in a group he thought had the best interest of the county in mind,” Neudorfer said.
    “He has a keen interest in zoning,” said Neudorfer. “I find him not biased in any way toward Bedford Above Board.”
    “I do not accept the fact that the board has decided they will pick the planning commission member of District 2,” Neudofer said, adding that perhaps the other supervisors should pick the District 2 supervisor as well.
    “You have a coalition going,” he said.
    “I believe I have been marginalized to the point where I have been marginalized as chairman and marginalized as supervisor,” he said. “At this stage of the game, with this particular action, I am going to leave the board. Mr. Arrington, you have achieved your control.”
    Neudorfer then left.
    “This was the most unprofessional thing I’ve seen in my life,” commented Pollard when Neudorfer left. “I am not part of a coalition. I don’t intend to be. I resent him making that comment.”
    “I knew he wouldn’t be pleased with what we did,” District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek said later in a phone interview. On the other hand, Cheek said that he was surprised that Neudorfer would resign in the middle of a meeting.
    Cheek said that, to his knowledge, Piatt was a member of Bedford Above Board.
    “The last thing I saw, they were suing us,”  he said. “I just couldn’t support that [nomination].”
    The lawsuit was Cheek’s reason for opposing Piatt’s nomination.
    “I don’t know why he made that nomination,” he said. “He should have known it would be controversial.”
    Cheek denied being part of any coalition.
    District 1 Supervisor Bill Thomasson said that, as far as he knew at the time, Piatt was still a member of Bedford Above Board.
    “Also there is a lawsuit pending against the county that his name is on,” Thomasson said.
    Thomasson said that the lawsuit was the primary reason he opposed Piatt’s nomination. Thomasson said he had not seen, prior to the vote, that Piatt had withdrawn from either Bedford Above Board or the lawsuit.
    Is there a coalition on the board of supervisors?
    “Absolutely not,” Thomasson replied. “We are all independent thinkers. This board here is a good mix and we are all independent thinkers.”
    “I take every vote very seriously,” he added. “I don’t take this job lightly.”
    “I hated for Chuck to resign, but that’s his decision and I respect that,” he said.
    District 5 Supervisor Steve Arrington also said that he understood Piatt to be a party to the Bedford Above Board lawsuit against the county at the time he voted.
    “I believe it would be inappropriate for a person who is suing the citizens of the county to represent the citizens of the county,” Arrington said.
    Arrington also denied the existence of a coalition on the board of supervisors.
    “I consider it insulting to allege that any board of supervisors members are part of a coalition,” he said.
    Like the others, District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard cited the Bedford Above Board lawsuit as her reason for opposing Piatt’s nomination.
    “I don’t know Mr. Piatt,” she said. “I just know that his name is on that lawsuit. Why would you appoint somebody who is suing you?”
    What about a coalition among the supervisors?
    “As far as I know, there is no coalition among the other members,” she said. “I am not part of one.”
    “We don’t always get our own way on everything,” Pollard said, commenting on Neudorfer’s resignation. “You have to accept the board’s decision and move on to the next thing. I just thought that was a very immature performance.”
    Neudorfer, in a phone interview, defended his nomination of Piatt. He said that he had worked with Piatt on remodeling Lake Christian Ministries’ building. He added that Piatt was chairman of the Smith Mountain Lake Home Tour, a major annual charity fundraiser.
    Piatt, according to Neudorfer, had disassociated himself with Bedford Above Board after the organization had taken a turn that he didn’t agree with.  He was also making preparations to take the planning commission member certification course.
    “It was nice to find somebody who was enthusiastic to take on the position,” Neudorfer said.
    Neudorfer said that Piatt no longer advocates Bedford Above Board’s approach and he felt that he should be able to appoint Piatt to the planning commission. He expected some concern from fellow supervisors and assumed there would be some discussion, but thought the nomination would go through. He said that he was perhaps naive to think that.
    Neudorfer said that he felt he had lost all effectiveness on the Board of Supervisors and this is why he did not intend to run for reelection next year. His original plan was to complete his term of office, which expires at the end of next year.
    “I probably could have done it better,” Neudorfer said of his resignation.