Tuesday, March 7, the Greensboro City Council passed a resolution reaffirming the city’s longstanding opposition to the Jordan Lake Rules. But It was a long, tortuous path to arrive at that version of the resolution.
According to the story being floated by city hall, it was originally written to thank state Sen. Trudy Wade for her work in delaying the implementation of the Jordan Lake Rules.
However, the original resolution proposed at the Feb. 21 City Council meeting, which did thank Wade, also supported the implementation of the Jordan Lake Rules as they are currently written.
The resolution that passed on March 7 didn’t mention Wade, which seems somewhat odd since two weeks ago, when the resolution was initially introduced, the stated purpose was to thank Wade – and supposedly the bulk of the resolution in support of the Jordan Lake Rules was simply an afterthought.
So how does a resolution thanking Wade and in support of the Jordan Lake Rules become a resolution that doesn’t mention Wade and opposes the Jordan Lake Rules?
Well, that’s politics.
Two weeks ago, that version of what we are supposed to believe was essentially the same resolution – except that it stated the opposite of what this one did – came within one councilmember of being adopted by the City Council.
That one councilmember was Tony Wilkins, the lone Republican on the City Council.
Wilkins thought the last minute resolution – which he and the rest of the City Council, but not the public, received hours before the Feb. 21 City Council meeting – looked a little fishy.
Wilkins sent the proposed resolution to former City Councilmember Tom Phillips, a longtime member of the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority, and Wade. The response Wilkins received from both was there is no way you can allow that resolution to pass. The resolution then rapidly made the rounds of the development community in Greensboro and the opposition was overwhelming.
At the Feb. 21 meeting, Councilmember Mike Barber said that the resolution had some problems in wording and needed to be withdrawn. “Problems in wording” in this case meant the resolution says the exact opposite of what the city supports.
The cover story for the Jordan Lake Rules resolution is that Mayor Nancy Vaughan, on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 21 – after meeting with Gov. Roy Cooper, who supports the Jordan Lake Rules – suddenly had an overwhelming desire to immediately thank Wade for her work in delaying the implementation of the Jordan Lake Rules and had an emergency resolution prepared for the council meeting that night.
There has never been any reasonable explanation about why this thank you to Wade had to be done in such a rush, or why it included support for the Jordan Lake Rules.
The city tried to point the finger at Marlene Sanford, the executive director of the Triad Real Estate & Building Industry Coalition (TREBIC). Sanford said she had never requested a City Council resolution, but that she did think thanking Wade for her work was a good idea.
Sanford was sent a copy of the first resolution by Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Schneier, who had been tasked with writing the emergency Wade thank you resolution. Sanford responded, “Jennifer, this is a good start but the conclusion is absolutely wrong. They cannot under any circumstances just [sic] tonight.”
So much for it being Sanford’s idea.
TREBIC has long opposed the Jordan Lake Rules, as has the City of Greensboro. The reason is obvious. According to the official report on the Jordan Lakes Rules, the estimate for implementation is $2 billion to $3 billion. Some developers say that estimate is low and isn’t even the worst problem. The Jordan Lake Rules would greatly increase the cost of development in Guilford, Rockingham, Alamance and the other counties in the effected area and – according to those in the development community – virtually halt development in the region.
So how did the Greensboro City Council on Feb. 21 come within one councilmember of passing a resolution supporting the Jordan Lake Rules?
The official explanation from the city is the one that Barber gave at the meeting – the resolution was “poorly worded.”
However, it does seem curious that Mayor Vaughan met with Jordan Lake Rules supporter Gov. Cooper, and after that meeting had a resolution drawn up by the city staff that slyly supported Jordan Lake Rules under the cover of thanking Wade for her work to delay the implementation.
Cooper is an extremely clever politician and it would be a huge help to Cooper to be able to say that even Greensboro doesn’t oppose the Jordan Lake Rules anymore.
Perhaps it is simply a huge coincidence that Vaughan met with Cooper and then Vaughan immediately had a resolution written for the meeting that night that supported the Jordan Lake Rules and, by the way, thanked Wade for her work to delay the implementation. Even as a coincidence it doesn’t work.
In fact, even the emergency resolution – which failed to pass on Feb. 21 – doesn’t pass the smell test. It is, according to Vaughan, a resolution to thank Wade, but Wade is not even mentioned in the resolution until the next to the last paragraph.
If the primary purpose of the resolution was to thank Wade, why is the entire first portion in support of the Jordan Lake Rules?
It appears that, once again, Wilkins, by asking a simple question, put a stop to some political scheming that could have had dire consequences for the City of Greensboro and Guilford County.
The Jordan Lake Rules were supposed to clean up some of the pollution problems in Jordan Lake, and even if the Jordan Lake Rules were implemented and strictly enforced, and the water coming into the lake from Guilford County was 100 percent pure, it wouldn’t do anything about the problem areas of the lake – which are in the upper reaches. Water does not flow uphill and the water entering the lake from Guilford County is not the water causing the problem.