Before I give my thoughts on the situation in Morrison, I want to first make it clear that I have nothing against the Morrison officials or Morrison. I literally have no dog in this fight because the only time I ever go to Morrison is when I am covering something. I am an outsider giving my opinion on the situation. So with that out of the way, the public hearing last week was a big mess.
The public hearing was for residents to voice their concerns on the new steel company, McNeilus Steel, moving to W. Maple St. Along with many other problems, the big problem was not many people knew this company was coming and it will literally be in people’s backyards. At the time of the public hearing, the rezoning of land had already been voted on twice (once by the planning commission and once by the board) and only needed one more vote to be approved.
Transparency was even brought into question at this meeting with many residents asking why it was OK to vote on the rezoning on Dec. 5, but put the public hearing notice in the paper on Dec. 11. The lawyer explained it was all done legally, but many felt things were done secretively.
Morrison in general has never really been on my radar. I cover the county so I usually am pretty booked with county meetings and whatnot, but I think it is time to take a closer look at Morrison. Both the public hearing and actual board meeting that followed was off the rails from start to finish. Elected officials were talking over each other. People were openly yelling at the officials. I’ve even been to one in the past where the people at the meeting started yelling at each other.
In the county, if you don’t follow the strict public comment rules you get escorted out. I’ve seen it happen. To speak in county meetings you have to be a resident or land owner in Warren County and you have three minutes to speak. When your time is up, you’re done. In Morrison, apparently you have to live in the Morrison city limits and only one member of a family is supposedly allowed to speak, or at least that is what I gathered from the meeting last Tuesday. I also think for board meetings you have to request to be on the agenda to speak for three minutes.
These rules were not enforced at the public hearing. I’m not saying people shouldn’t have the right to speak out on these issues; I am only questioning why these rules are in place if they aren’t being enforced. The hearing and the meeting quickly turned into shouting matches with one alderman yelling into the mic that we need to just let Morrison dry up and blow away if people didn’t want a steel company. When I say yelling, I mean yelling.
My thoughts on the steel company are conflicting because it doesn’t affect me. I think it was handled poorly. I don’t know who thought sneaking a huge steel company in Morrison was a good idea. I don’t know why they thought no one would notice or be angry about it. I do know I will be attending more Morrison meetings in the future.
Standard reporter Bethany Porter can be reached at (931) 473-2191.