Changes in Calabash cause controversy - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Changes in Calabash cause controversy

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CALABASH, NC (WECT) - There's controversy in Calabash over a recent change in the way residents can ask questions during town meetings.

According to the ordinance change request, questions are no longer allowed during the public comments section of the meetings. The board voted 4-1 to approve the change. Residents now have to write out and send in their questions. They will then be answered with a written response and will be accessible to the public.

Mayor Pro Tem Emily DiStasio said the change was only made to avoid lengthy comment periods.

However, Michael Herring, a resident of Calabash, said his question about the town's efforts to foreclose on a home is what sparked the change.

"I would like to know if this was motivated by complaint calls," Herring said during September's meeting. "And how much is it costing the city to pursue such an action?"

He thinks town officials are pushing the responsibility of answering these types of questions off on the town attorney among other people.

"Well, if they don't have the time to sit down in a town hall meeting and answer a few questions from the residents, then maybe they shouldn't be on the committee. That's what we elected them for," Herring said.

Commissioner Daria Buccilli said she is the one board member to vote against the change.   

"The residents are our boss." Buccilli said. "If a resident has a question and I'm able to answer it, whether I'm at the grocery store or I'm at a meeting or just out in the public in general, then I have a responsibility to answer their question."

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