Take politics out of city code rulesPublished 12:04am Thursday, July 12, 2012
Natchez aldermen are wise to consider righting a wrong from the past — and in doing so they can make a good thing even better in the process.
The city is lucky enough to have a group of caring, intelligent and committed citizen volunteers who serve on the city’s preservation and planning boards.
These dedicated individuals attempt to take politics out of the enforcement of city code.
The Natchez preservation commission’s power was gutted in 2005 when aldermen unanimously voted to change the process of appeals to decisions the commission made.
Prior to September 2005, appeals went to circuit court where a seemingly impartial and non-political judge was asked to rule on the appeal. A dispute over details of a proposed condominium development so enraged aldermen that they quickly changed their own rules so they could serve as final judge and jury over the matter.
It was an ill-conceived idea then, particularly since in that case the city had a vested interest in the development’s success since it was on land they’d sold to developers.
Planning commission appeals have never gone to court, but in many ways, they likely should. As much as we don’t want to clog up the legal system with trivial matters, having non-political hands deciding such things is truly in the best interest of the city and its residents.
On Tuesday the aldermen formed a committee to study the matter. That’s a positive step, particularly since the original decision was made quickly and without much thought.
At the end of the day, we hope the aldermen will change the appeals process for both boards and in doing so provide residents with another assurance that the City of Natchez is open for business, fair and above board on all public matters.