Letters to the Editor

Redevelopment board needs more public control

I'm amazed you have had no printed responses to the concerns expressed in your Nov. 5 editorial ("Redevelopment board wields too much authority").

In effect, the Beaufort City Council has handed this board the most important powers of the city government. This board can condemn property (eminent domain), buy and sell property, incur debt and enter into partnerships with developers without the control of the City Council.

Through this board, pesky property owners can be bulldozed into selling their property cheaply or face a taking by the board. While the initial board members will obviously be the fairest, most honorable, most noble and most worthy among us, the future membership might not be so pure and so free of conflicts of interest.

One would have to be naive as a newborn kitten not to believe that some souls will be working future City Councils to alter the membership. What a fine tool for developers to bludgeon uncooperative sellers into submission, or borrow money on the city's faith and credit and then hand it over to favored developers. You can smell it coming -- sweetheart arrangements allegedly made for the public good. Recent state legislation may protect some homeowners from takings by condemnation but not the public at large.

City Council members should in public votes approve any condemnations, any borrowings and any partnerships with private groups or developers. Interested citizens might want to challenge the mayor and council members on this.

William P. Hendricks Lady's Island