September 10, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Demi Dowdy (919) 834-2099 firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking to the Board of Commissioners, CLF attorney stresses importance of adhering to legal process in evaluating wind energy regulations
RALEIGH — In Chowan County, the Civitas Institute Center for Law and Freedom (CLF) has been demonstrating how public interest lawyers can help citizens’ groups both navigate complex legal issues and ensure local officials comply with state transparency laws.
CLF has for several months been working with residents of Chowan County to help promote transparency in the County Commission’s evaluation of wind energy legislation. On Tuesday, Sept. 8, CLF attorney Elliot Engstrom visited the Chowan County Board of Commissioners to speak on the benefits of transparency and strictly adhering to the legal process for evaluating zoning legislation.
In April 2015, a subcommittee of the Chowan County planning board recommended that the Board of Commissioners amend the county’s wind energy ordinance to better provide for the health, safety, and welfare of county residents. A citizens’ group later presented the Board of Commissioners with more than 600 signatures in support of the subcommittee’s recommendations.
“We realized that even though we were not seeking to sue the County Commission, we did need legal counsel to help us understand North Carolina’s laws regarding transparency and the process by which zoning ordinances are amended,” Chowan County resident Ron Cummings said. “We are grateful that the Civitas Institute has been able to supply us with a lawyer to answer our many questions and help represent our interests before the Board of Commissioners.”
CLF is not working to have any particular law passed in Chowan County, but is rather helping the citizens’ group ensure that the process by which the subcommittee’s recommendations are considered is transparent and legal.
“In Chowan County we are working as advocates for a citizens’ group, not adversaries of the local government,” Engstrom said. “This is an example of the proactive work that can be accomplished by public interest law firms outside of the courtroom. Government agencies almost always have the benefit of legal counsel when facing difficult policy issues. We’re simply providing concerned citizens with that same benefit.”
The Chowan County Board of Commissioners will next meet on Sept. 21 to consider proposed changes to the county’s wind energy ordinance.
The Center for Law and Freedom, a nonprofit public interest law firm housed within the Civitas Institute, provides free legal representation to North Carolinians facing difficult legal and policy challenges. The Center is one part of the Civitas Institute’s overall mission to implement conservative policy solutions for the benefit of all North Carolinians.