Thursday, December 13, 2012

Groundhog Day – Councilman asks for dissolution of Mill Mountain Advisory Committee

Councilman Ray Ferris

Here we go again. Another 2:00 council meeting Monday going round and round on the legality of the Mill Mountain Advisory Committee. Ray Ferris and as a little birdie told me Court Rosen, who actually started the ball rolling, are hell-bent on getting rid of the MMAC. Ferris has prepared a “brief.” A brief is a legal document that argues the merits of a case to a judge.

Councelor Ray Ferris is a city councilman elected by Roanoke citizens who pay his salary. They didn’t elect an attack dog defense attorney or did they.

Observation of his questioning techniques rivals those of “Perry Mason.” Citizens who exercise their right for redress before city council are submitted to a battery of questions on a “witness stand” rather than a podium.

Tune in Monday at 2:00 p.m. on Channel 3 and watch another episode of “the case of the evil MMAC.” Odds are all the “Kumbaya” council members will  go along to get along. You may see  fluffy yada-yada speechifying in defense and admiration of MMAC but they will all flush them down the toilet in the end.

Once you read the below councelor’s brief it becomes clear that council only needs to ratify the MMAC as a “committee” for the record. It was an oversight after they fulfilled the requirements to be a committee as a past council requested.

It is just a technicality to be rectified by this city council. Then again rectification is not the purpose of this exercise – suspicion is just “get them out of the way” so they will not interfere with future plans (whatever they might be).

Mill Mountain Advisory Committee – what is it good for? Nov. 19

Big Bird, Mill Mountain and smaller government Oct. 8

Ray Ferris’ brief to the court is below:

December 17, 2012

Re:  Mill Mountain Advisory Committee

Dear Mayor Bowers and fellow members of City Council:

I request  that the  Mill  Mountain Advisory  Committee  be  placed  on  our  December  17, 2012 agenda for discussion and action.

I  respectfully  submit  that  City  Council  records  clearly  reflect  that  the  Mill  Mountain Advisory  Committee  is  an  ad  hoc  committee,  as  formally  recognized  by  the  Council  in Resolution  23074  adopted  on July 6,  1976.  When  asked for  an  opinion  about the  distinction between  “ad hoc” committees  and permanent entities,  then City Attorney Wilburn Dibling, Jr., by letter dated October 28,  1983  advised the City Clerk that “ad hoc  entities are special  entities which go out of existence as soon as they have completed a specified task.”  Roanoke Municipal Code  Section  2-280  provides  “the  council  may  also,  from  time  to  time,  establish  ad  hoc committees to serve specific purposes” and Section 2-285 mandates that “ad hoc committees and commissions appointed by council shall make periodic reports to the council as to the progress of their assigned duties and responsibilities.”

The  history  of the  committee  is  relevant for  our  discussion,  so  please  indulge  me  as  I share some  research with  you.  The Mill Mountain  Development  Committee was  created in 1965.  Through  the  years,  the  committee  brought  to  council  numerous  recommendations  for “development,” including, but not limited to, a new access road, moving the star to  accommodate a hotel  and restaurant, improvements to the  zoo, improvements to  and restoration of Rockledge Inn,  clearing  a suitable  area for  use  as  a ski slope, replacement  of Frump-Frump the  elephant, construction  of quarters  to  house  a  hippopotamus,  construction  of a  state  science  museum, construction of an aerial tram or gondola from downtown, a D-Day Memorial and construction of a new incline (1968 – 1997).  It would appear from the  city council meeting minutes from  this period  that  these  development  concepts  were  brought  to  council  by  the  Mill  Mountain Development Committee.

On March  17,  1997, the Mill Mountain Development Committee presented a report and its Vision and Mission Statements to City Council, along with a request that its name be changed to The Mill Mountain Advisory Committee.  The Council approved the requests.

In  1998  the Mill Mountain Advisory Committee recommended that Council  establish  a policy with respect to  illumination of the star and in 2003 the committee worked with Parks and Recreation  on  the  development  of the Master Plan.  In  2004 the  committee started  discussing placing Mill Mountain in a conservation easement.

A  proposal  to  build  a  modem  day  version  of Rockledge  Inn  by  a  group  that  called themselves “Valley Forward” was discussed and presented to the  committee in the 2007 – 2008 time  frame,  and  the  proposal  was  rejected  by  the  committee.  No  proposal  was  ever formally presented to City Council.

The  committee  adopted  by-laws  and  requested  that  City  Council  make  it  a  permanent committee in 2009.  Council took no  action on the request.

On  June  21,  2010,  The  Mill  Mountain  Advisory  Committee  endorsed  the  “Blue  Line Easement,” which was  the  description of the  conservation  easement that won  approval  of City Council that same date.

Having  granted  the  vast majority  of Mill Mountain Park to  the  Western Virginia Land Trust  in  2010,  the  area  available  to  the  City  for  development  on Mill  Mountain  is  extremely limited.  In  fact,  there  have  been  no  proposals  for  development  on  Mill  Mountain  since  the Valley  Forward  effort  in  2008.  Almost  five  years  have  gone  by  without  the  first  hint  of a proposed intrusion on Mill Mountain.

I respectfully maintain that the  purpose  of the  Mill Mountain Advisory Committee  has been fulfilled.  As  an  ad hoc  committee,  it  ceased  to  exist  when  there  were  no  development proposals pending for it to  consider.  At this time there are no pending projects and none on the horizon, that require action on the part of the committee, and no  assignment of responsibility has been made by City Council.  Further, should such a development proposal be made or sought at some  point  in  the  future,  it  would  be  appropriate  at  that juncture  to  appoint  another  ad hoc committee,  comprised  of citizens  from  all  quadrants  of the  city,  and  which  necessarily should include  a member  of the  Fishburn Family and  others  closely associated with Mill Mountain, to consider and make such recommendations as the Council deems appropriate.

The  contributions  of those  who  serve  and  have served  on the Mill Mountain  Advisory Committee  deserve  our  heartfelt  thanks  for  their  hard  work  and  deep  commitment  to  the preservation of Mill Mountain.  They have contributed countless hours to improve and maintain a  valuable resource that we  all  enjoy.  In  no  way should this  proposal  be  viewed  as  a  lack  of appreciation  for  all  that  they  have  contributed  to  the  mountain  and  our  valley.  They  are undoubtedly interested and caring citizens who should be encouraged to continue working for the good of Mill Mountain, which, I suggest, can be accomplished through the formation of a private advocacy  group  dedicated  to  preserving  the  environmental  and  aesthetic  integrity  of  the mountain.

I look forward to our discussion on this matter.

Yours Truly,

Raphael Ferris

Council Member

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Community, Politics, Roanoke City Politics

Tags: ,

Comments (1)


December 14th, 2012 at 9:36 PM    

Re Ferris’ Brief to the Court, err, Roanoke City Council! I know this must be a joke! Every Roanoke Valley citizen wants to take good care of Mill Mountain for its original intent by “the family” and Ferris is a Citizen of Roanoke. So, this MUST be a joke!

Comments are not moderated. Notify any abuse at put ABUSE in the subject and the offensive post.

Leave a Reply