At the 5 November Lexington Town Council meeting, Mayor Steve MacDougall, strictly abiding by a agenda HE controlled, refused to allow a citizen to speak. Mrs. Elizabeth Monts Rauch, an icon in the Town and County of Lexington, wanted to address a conflict about the Town and it’s attempt to acquire family property via eminent domain. Mrs. Rauch gave Lake and Main her statement. It appears below.
(UPDATE: In a comment, Ms. Rauch states: “I was up before the gavel fell and was adjourned. I was told that I was on the agenda but that was false too. Citizens have always had the right to speak. Must be a new ruling against Roberts Rules if Order.”)
Good Evening. Citizens of the Town of Lexington Council members and staff.
I decided to speak to this body tonight not only to express my concerns of events of late; the overreach of government power, but, also to express my displeasure of the same. I have been a resident of Lexington county for the entirety of my life and with that I am a 7th generation resident on both my Paternal and Maternal sides. My family had roles not only in the founding of this town, but the founding of this state and nation as well. I have represented this area as Miss Lexington County, speaking across the nation as the president of a group of Master Teachers 12,-000 strong and one of five U.S. teachers chosen to form the National Junior Beta Club as well as serving as National and State sponsor.
I spent over 35 years teaching English, Math, Music and History in most of Lexington County. I also was one of the early woman business leaders in this town and state. I have, over the years, developed a great number of properties of which I owned all to the benefit of the town. I have refused countless opportunities for a quick buck because I did not want to chase a shiny object; I wanted to build longevity and utility that would bring economic stability to the area and to my issue. I still have that goal. Of all these developments not once did the town use eminent domain on another property owner to complete my developments. Actually quite to the contrary. I have given property to the town to benefit others (Libby Lane, Rauch Street, et al). We also brought the unique idea of connectors between centers so as to establish safety.
That is the concern I am here to speak about today. We, my family and I, are in the beginnings of a fight with this council and administration over a threatened condemnation of a strip of property across my family’s King George II land grant farm we have for generations called “the olde place,” that unfairly benefits other developers and unduly disrupts our property.
We offered other options through our real estate agent several times during the course of early negotiations to which we were amicable. Those requests fell on deaf ears and were quickly dismissed. The decision of what and how the town wanted to do with this project had already been internally decided. This condemnation was voted on and approved behind closed doors and under false presumptions before one single person on this body contacted my family directly to discuss this, to the opposite of how you did talk to the other party, the developer with the plans and timeline for condemnation as you moved forward. I have always felt that the administration of this town handled business such as this, and the clandestine committee of which you operate, truly should not be conducting votes at all under state law and I still don’t understand how this is allowed, as it just enables the cycle of abuses. With this cycle, the citizens of the town are left in the dark of what really happens as you make decisions.
We were further appalled when we learned of the grotesque and foul treatment the gentlemen of the Masonic Lodge 152 have had to endure. We know how they feel. Good faith negotiations have give-and-take on both sides; they are not “do as we wish or we will force you.”
Ladies and gentlemen of this body, the powers you hold under the law are a shield and not a sword and you should never forget that. To know that an employee of this town or elected official threatened anyone with eminent domain rather than diligently working an amicable solution is highly inappropriate. In my opinion, it is like an officer of the peace running around threatening deadly force on everyone. My sincere hope that this Election Day, anyone involved in this is defeated but also any employee that operated in this manner is summarily dismissed.
As for the legal disagreement between us, many of you have contacted my son, Christoper, when he reached out to you. We appreciate this, but note it is after the fact. He, his siblings and I would like to repair this situation before it goes further. Several of you have committed to finding a solution outside of the current situation and I appreciate that. Forgive me, though, if I remain guarded. I have had to endure many dirty dealings over the years with this council and administration, so I won’t believe one thing that you say. I will only trust what you do.
We could sincerely like to come to a solution, but it in its absence, we are prepared for a fight if, for nothing else but what we believe is the principle of life, liberty and property.
We believe there are others that are willing to endure a similar fight to ensure you all conduct yourselves in a more appropriate manner in the future.