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On Sept. 11, when the commissioners thought the large project was on the hook, that entire discussion made it very clear that, if the company didn't come, the board expected no action. In fact, much of the argument for passing the 90-day contingent resolution went like this: Why not vote for it? If the company doesn't come here, then nothing happens.
For instance, Alston said at the Sept. 11 meeting, when the contingent 90-day motion was being discussed: "Will it happen? I don't know. It may happen; it may not. We've got a 90-day clause, and if nothing happens within 90 days, it reverts back to being a cow pasture. So we don't have anything to lose."
Other commissioners made similar arguments at the Sept. 11 meeting.
Even after Yow's motion at the Oct. 4 meeting failed, Yow and Bencini continued to ask Payne if he understood what "contingent upon" meant.
The day after the meeting, Yow sent Payne an email: "Mark, after last night I need you to give me a better understanding the meaning of (this is contingent upon) the reason is that you know there is nothing about the motion that states we would rezone the property if so show me [a] clear definition of Webster['s] dictionary."
Payne sent Yow a lengthy response (which did not, by the way, address the definition of "contingent upon.") Payne also sent copies of his explanation to the other commissioners.
Payne laid out the events and conditions leading up to the motion and he wrote: "It was in that context that the resolution was passed. Based on that it seemed clear to staff that our marching orders were to begin the long list of tasks necessary to make the development of the park happen. One of the first such tasks is rezoning the property. I think it must be noted right here that no one thought, when the resolution was passed that staff was supposed to wait until a firm commitment to start the work. We were to start but not actually move the prison farm operations, or some other irreversible thing that would fundamentally change the operation w/o the firm commitment. [note: rezoning is not something that would impact that farm operations at all since the prison farm is a grandfathered use and can continue as it is, if the county wished, for years to come exactly as it is now. In other words, the resolution as it was passed gave the staff marching orders for 90 days; if after 90 days no firm commitment was in place, then the orders were to stop and wait further direction."
Yow wrote back: "Mark, this is billy your talking to I don't believe a word of what you sent I do not see the marching orders your referring to in the motion what I do see is the manager and skip pulling your chain you still have not told me what (this is contingent upon) means to you I know what it means to me and the rest of the world please explain what you think it means."
According to Webster's dictionary, and many other dictionaries as well, "contingent" means "dependant upon."
Bencini also didn't seem convinced by Payne's defense of the move.
Bencini wrote: "Mark, if it is so freaking clear, why do you need to respond with an epistle? Bill."
Just seconds after the Board of Commissioners voted on the issue at the Oct. 4 meeting, Yow asked the clerks to the board how much the fee was to appeal a rezoning decision.
Yow said right after the meeting that he would appeal the rezoning request if the Planning Board granted Fox's request.
"It's only $200," Yow said.