Who can hear a silent majority? Should the will of the speaking majority be ignored?
Certainly in many decisions in New York State, elected officials are perfectly free to ignore the will of the majority and, in fact, some officials make it a point of honor that they do not govern by opinion polls, but rather make their decisions based on what they believe is best for their communities. And sometimes elected officials should be commended for standing on principles and holding fast to unpopular decisions.
But the adoption of a comprehensive plan is a unique proposition. The New York State Department of State (DOS) website has a document defining the creation and purpose of a comprehensive plan. (See: tinyurl.com/9wcw4r7). It says, in part, “Defining a town, village or city’s sense of place and its vision through a plan requires extensive community input. If the comprehensive plan is adopted pursuant to the [related] statutes, at least one public hearing is required during preparation and another one prior to adoption. Additional hearings or meetings ensure that all interested citizens have the opportunity to participate.”
Town of Callicoon officials have held the requisite public hearings, but if officials then ignore the expressed will of the majority, what is the point?
Language in DOS related documents repeatedly says it is the vision that the community has for the future of the town that is the basis for determining the contents of a comprehensive plan, not the vision of the elected officials.