Up & Coming Weekly

August 02, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 4 of 24

4 UCW AUGUST 2 - 8, 2023 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM STAFF PUBLISHER Bill Bowman Bill@upandcomingweekly.com OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Paulette Naylor accounting@upandcomingweekly.com MANAGING EDITOR April Olsen editor@upandcomingweekly.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Hannah Lee assistanteditor@upandcomingweekly. com ART DIRECTOR Courtney Sapp-Scott art@upandcomingweekly.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Isaiah Jones graphics@upandcomingweekly.com STAFF WRITERS Alyson Hansen Kathleen Ramsey Chayenne Burns Katrina Wilson Aubrette Reid Laura Browne CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Lois Kirby, Margaret Dickson, Pitt Dickey, Rep. Richard Hudson, Evey Weisblat, Cynthia Ross MARKETING ASSOCIATE Linda McAlister linda@upandcomingweekly.com SALES ASSISTANT Sheila Barker salesassistant@upandcomingweekly. com COVER Cover design by Isaiah Jones Photo of Courtney Banks-McLaughlin and Tracey Morrison by Isaiah Jones. Photo of DJ Stizzy by KM Visionz. Up & Coming Weekly www.upandcomingweekly.com 208 Rowan St. P.O. Box 53461 Fayetteville, NC 28305 PHONE: 910-484-6200- FAX: 910-484-9218 Up & Coming Weekly is a "Quality of Life" publication with local features, news and information on what's happening in and around the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community. Published weekly on Wednesdays, Up & Coming Weekly welcomes manuscripts, photographs and artwork for publication consideration, but assumes no responsibility for them. We cannot accept responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts or material. Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. The publisher reserves the right to edit or reject copy submitted for publication. Up & Coming Weekly is free of charge and distributed at indoor and outdoor locations throughout Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, Pope Army Airfield, Hope Mills and Spring Lake. Readers are limited to one copy per person. © 2020 by F&B Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or advertisements without permission is strictly prohibited. Various ads with art graphics designed with elements from: vecteezy.com and freepik.com. Association of Community Publishers PUBLISHER'S PEN District 5 Special Use Permit is an insult to all Fayetteville residents by LOIS KIRBY It isn't very reassuring when the Mayor of Fayetteville, elected city officials, and paid city staff ignore the people's will. Especially when they are dis- missed with an incredibly high level of incompetence, as we witnessed at the District 5 hear- ing for a Special Use Permit for our Haymount neighborhood. ese meetings are signifi- cant since they can dramati- cally change the character of a neighborhood. During the past two years, Mayor Mitch Colvin and City Council elected offi- cials have totally and irresponsibly destroyed the trust and confidence of the people who elected them and en- trusted them to look after the interest of their constituents. Many expect our elected officials to be responsible, competent and laser- focused on making advantageous decisions for their constituents. However, not so much anymore. is situation is even more dire now because our community lacks objective and accurate NEWS re- porting, making it difficult, if not impossible, to understand important issues, get the facts, or even glean half-truths about essential matters at City Hall. Doing a deep dive into these criti- cal issues and providing the facts and information affects every citizen's livelihood and quality of life. is lack of transparency allows our elected officials and city staff to ma- neuver, scheme in the shadows and operate with impunity. Seeing is believing. On May 22, and again on June 26, the residents of District 5 in Haymount witnessed firsthand one of the most inept and unprofessional fiascos by our city's elected officials when Mayor Colvin, City Attorney Karen McDonald, and members of the Fayetteville City Council attempted to conduct what was called a quasi-judicial eviden- tiary hearing for a Special Use Permit (SUP) allowing ShineLight, Inc., an autism services business owned by Fayetteville native Nikki Creesy, to build a multi-family duplex in a single-family residential neighbor- hood. e session was an abysmal exam- ple of the embarrassing, inept lead- ership in place at City Hall, making it abundantly clear that the majority of the council members, including Mayor Colvin, Craig Harmon and the city planning staff, and City Attorney McDonald were grossly unprepared to address the issue, and had no grasp of the governing ordinances in place, nor did they have any clear idea as to what their responsibilities were to residents or the proper way to conduct a quasi-judicial hearing. One newly elected Council mem- ber, Mario Benavente of District 3, tried to bring logic, a sense of rea- son, and fairness to the meeting. However, he failed to get attention or support from his peers. is was most disappointing. It was nothing less than horrifying and discourag- ing to watch as the Mayor, Council, and city staff blundered their way through this primary concern of so many loyal taxpaying residents. It became apparent to those who witnessed this fiasco that they had weaponized ignorance and incom- petence with the city leadership's abundant misrepresentations, mis- information, operational confusion and inappropriate motions. e meeting was poorly run and negatively charged. At one point, District 2 councilwoman Shakeyla Ingram insulted those who op- posed the SUP by stating that those in opposition were prejudice to- ward people with special needs. How ridiculous it was. Yet, it was not an unexpected gesture from the uninformed councilwoman when confronted with a logical situation for which she had no knowledge or intelligent response. Rezonings and SUP actions should always be handled with integrity and intense research. Most importantly, each council member should visit the neighborhood or property in question. Making rezoning decisions that benefit only a single business or petitioner without research while turning your back on an entire established neighborhood is inexcusable. Following the decision to approve the SUP in favor of ShineLight, Inc. had even Mayor Colvin feeling compelled to ad- mit that the meeting, procedures and the decision to approve the rezoning were made inap- propriately and improperly and allowing the vote to go forward was undoubtedly an act of poor judgment and leadership. Especially concerning was that the District 5 representative (Johnny Dawkins) recused himself from the final vote — leaving District 5 with absolutely no voice, which many interpreted as being a cowardly thing to do. e City Council and elected of- ficials should work for the taxpay- ers who support the city. Election day is Nov. 7. It is imperative you know the candidates and who you are voting for. Pay attention to how they vote, support issues and react to constituents' needs. We must not be victimized further by people making inappropriate, misguided and incompetent decisions on our behalf. e hostility and arrogance expressed by several sitting council members toward residents of this community is unacceptable, espe- cially given their incompetence. ank goodness for Up & Coming Weekly newspaper for allowing the people's voices to be heard. Without a media voice for truth, reason and fairness, we are left vulnerable to acts of impropriety. Fayetteville needs a transparent government and competent leader- ship. After all, WE THE PEOPLE, have control of those we elect. When it's evident that they are not acting on our behalf or in our best interest, perhaps it's time to look for those who will. Fayetteville, it is time! Editor's note: Lois Kirby is a former City Council member representing District 5, and former Mayor Pro Tem. LOIS KIRBY, Contributor. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomingweekly.com. 910-484-6200

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