EMAN has now created a division between the residential community and the business community....divisive to say the least. Working together to solve problems has taken a huge step backwards.
I recently attended an EMAN-sponsored RCO meeting of residents and local business owners. It was a spirited and well-run meeting about the variance requested by the Lantern Theater Company for their proposed location at the corner of Mt. Pleasant and Germantown Ave. As a longtime business owner and a nonresident property owner, I was accorded a vote. However, I was advised that folks in those categories may be losing their right to vote. When I voiced concern, it was suggested by an EMAN board member that I should attend the next EMAN board meeting to discuss that potential change. I subsequently confirmed my attendance with the current EMAN executive director.
I attended the next board meeting and two worrisome developments took place. One, a motion to close EMAN Board meetings to the public was narrowly defeated, 7-6. And two, a predetermined decision was announced to exclude nonresident property owners and local business owners from all future RCO voting. No real discussion... simply a done deal.
I raised my family in East Mt. Airy for over 30 years. I have operated my business in Mt. Airy for almost 40 years. I have contributed significantly, in terms of both time and money, to my community. And I am now told my vote doesn't count. This new policy is exclusionary and wrong. EMAN has now created a division between the residential community and the business community....divisive to say the least. Working together to solve problems has taken a huge step backwards.
It's been indicated that the decision was borne out of EMAN's concern that votes were being orchestrated in favor of developers and their variances. If that is true, we should all be concerned. But it seems unlikely given that the numbers of residents so far outweigh any other category. If residents are not participating, EMAN should be concerned. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that EMAN membership has dwindled to little more than 250 members, out of thousands of residents. Has EMAN outlived its relevance? I certainly hope not.
This is a slap in the face to tell me I have no vote. The way to remedy this problem, if there is one, is not to eliminate voters. Every other RCO I've experienced allows for voting rights in all categories. If someone is gaming the system, it's easy enough to eliminate their vote...other RCO's have systems in place to prevent just that. And, as a real estate professional, I have easy access to information that would help resolve that issue.
EMAN, please change your policy. It's short-sighted and wrong.