Today it is very difficult in our society to determine the difference between opinions and facts. Websites make everything so official looking and once someone reaches the information they are searching for, they stop looking. We’ve all done it. How many times have you only heard bits and pieces of a story and created a complete tale that was completely wrong? We’re human, it happens.
Opinions are tricky and usually derived from emotion. Facts are bits of information that exist regardless of how one feels or reacts.
Fact: AR-15 is named after Armalite. Opinion is that AR-15 stands for assault rifle. It’s simple to make the mistake, but facts are different and should be sought out.
In September I will be part of a quasi-judicial hearing in the Town of Holly Ridge. What is that you ask? It is the process to request a special use permit. It is not zoning, since the property zone must already be in place (in this case it’s Neighborhood Business). The special use permit application in this case is for an indoor gun range to be constructed in an already existing building that is already zoned for a gun shop.
A court-like event, quasi-judicial hearings require the presentation of facts presented through witnesses (who are sworn in) and documents necessary to fulfill the requirements. Generally based on most guidelines I have located from other towns, there is an allotted amount of time for the applicant to present (about an hour), for those who oppose and for the applicant to question/comment about the opposing witnesses.
Generally this is held before a board of adjustments or zoning board, but the Holly Ridge process requires the town council to vote on the matter once the facts are presented.
Should the requirements be satisfied, then the special use permit should be approved.
Opinions are not part of this process; but we all know that humans are not robots, and sometimes we let opinions override what it supposed to be black and white. Each and every one of us have preferences, bias and prejudices, but in this case, those are supposed to be put aside and the decision is to be based on facts alone.
In the next few weeks I will be studying everything I can on quasi-judicial hearings since this is new territory to me. If any of you have experience with this process, I would love to hear from you!
Remember that knowledge is power and facts are facts — leave your opinions at the door.
Dorothy Royal is the owner of Surf City Guns and Ammo, mother of two wonderful children, ringmaster of a herd of miniature ponies and an avid member of the Surf City Writers Group and Topsail Book Club.