It’s time to come together

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tentatively, a joint meeting of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners and the Washington City Council is on the calendar for July 29, with the location of a new jail one of the agenda items.

That meeting is more than a month away, and something could come up to derail it. Let’s hope not.

It’s no secret the city has at least one issue with a matter regarding the new jail.

At a council meeting in March, Mayor Archie Jennings and the council said they are “comfortable” with the city’s position regarding locating a new Beaufort County jail at the Beaufort County Industrial Park.

The city’s position is it does not dispute the need for a new jail but does not believe it should be located at the industrial park, which is jointly owned by Beaufort County and the city. The mayor and council are somewhat miffed the city was not consulted on where to locate the new jail, if one is built.

The industrial park is in the city limits. City zoning regulations could prevent the new jail from being located there.

This tentative meeting between city leaders and county leaders should help resolved difference the two governing bodies have over the jail.
 “If I could just offers this up as a summary position on where we are right now … it’s pretty clear that either from a restrictive covenant or zoning standpoint — not to mention joint ownership — that this can’t happen without the city’s input in the process,” Jennings said at the March meeting. “With that said, we all know there’s a lot of political back and forth going on at the county level where this decision belongs. I would submit that we rest comfortably in our position. There’s been some contact — welcome contact — with individual county commissioners. I think we are better served to remain confident and comfortable in our position around our ownership stake and our zoning regulations and, essentially, field inquiries from the county when we think it’s appropriate. Is everybody comfortable with that?”

“Sure,” replied Councilman Bobby Roberson, with the other council members indicating their approval of that approach.

As Jerry Langley, chairman of the Board of Commissioners said, earlier this week, the county continues to move forward with the issue of building a new jail, although that movement has been at a snail’s pace over the years.

And it’s about time the city and county sat down and talked about the new jail, not to mention several other issues, but that’s an editorial for another day.

After the talking, perhaps some action will happen soon thereafter.