Wake Commission Endorses Sustainability Report, Debates Property Rights

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The Wake County Board of Commissioners Monday unanimously endorsed the recommendations made by the Sustainability Task Force, but it wasn’t easy.

The endorsement came with four other provisions — one of which would consider establishing a property rights council to review commissioner decisions for potential personal property rights infringements.

There was an apparent split along party lines as to whether the commission should vote for the entire motion with provisions as a whole or split it into five separate votes. Republican Joe Bryan finally sided with Democrats in favor of splitting the motion.

The Sustainability Task Force is a 65-member group that was appointed by the commission almost two years ago. According to its report, out of those 65 members, only two were not in favor of the recommendations and offered alternatives.

Both members, Wynne Coleman and Dr. Michael Sanera, were present at the meeting and spoke out against the report during the public comment period.

Coleman, representing the Wake County Taxpayers Association, said the report was incompatible with the constitution and the free enterprise system. But Coleman urged commissioners against a property rights council, saying that it adds another layer of government bureaucracy and, “contains the seeds of future problems.”

Most audience members — some of whom were task force members — spoke in favor of the report, calling the recommendations common sense. They also urged commissioners to ignore the claims that the report is part of a global conspiracy perpetrated by the United Nations to force small governments to adhere with sustainability standards set in 1992.

Most of the debate between commissioners came during the discussion about the property rights council and adopting the county’s own sustainability plan. Both items were approved on party line votes with Chair Paul Coble, Bryan, Phil Matthews and Tony Gurley in favor, while Erv Portman, James West and Betty Lou Ward voted against.

Portman suggested tabling the issue so staff could look into the details of creating such a council, such as potential members, their responsibilities and how much it would cost in time and resources.

Coble, who wrote the motion, said that it does not approve the creation of a council, but asks staff to look into all of those details. The Commission will still have to vote on actually forming the council, he said.

Coble’s motion also encourages the county to create its own sustainability plan and not adopt any of the standards set during the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development.

Coble said there are recommendations in the report that lend themselves to the same standards. At the work session last week, Coble said that he doesn’t believe the world shouldn’t tell Wake County how to run things.

Portman said the motion gives credibility to a conspiracy theory.

West said that he doesn’t believe the task force was influenced by any global agenda and that his bigger concern is that this deals with a philosophical agenda unrelated to Sustainability Task Force report.

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