The meeting, which was held in the upstairs courtroom of Polk County Courthouse No. 1 because of the expected large turnout, drew close to 300 residents, all presumably opposed to the idea of the industrial park. The courtroom was filled past capacity, with many residents opting to stand in the back of the room.
Three residents were given a chance to speak at the meeting, during which commissioners Ray Barber, Mark Sullins, Sandra Galloway, Roger Waldrop and Chairman Billy Croker conducted regular business as well. Not in attendance at the meeting was Commissioner David Jarvis.
The most rousing comments of the night came from John Roberts, who stated he owns farmland in Antioch that borders the west side of the 1,545 acres of property in question. Roberts emphasized that he had poured his heart and soul into his farm, which he said means more than life itself to him.
His property, along with the land and homes of others in the Antioch community, he said, would become worthless if the industrial park, which he called a festering sore, was given the green light.
Roberts stated that even now, his friends property in Antioch is becoming a hard sell. They are afraid to buy the home because of the proposed park, he said.
The biting comments from Roberts also focused on the commissioners themselves, as he said any commissioner responsible for bringing the industrial park to Antioch would hurt their chances at another term in office. To do so will end your political careers, he said.
Denise Seiz, chairperson for the group Citizens United to Preserve and Protect Polk County, opened her statements by saying that her group is not anti-growth, but is for more responsible growth with use of tax dollars and the environment.
Seiz pointed out that no environmental studies had been conducted to see if an industrial park is appropriate for the area. She also told commissioners that the Antioch community needs to be represented on the development authority and called for appropriate representation by each district on the board.
Croker responded by saying that Seiz would be considered for a spot on the board once a vacancy occurs.
With your [commissioners] help we can keep Polk County a great place to live, she concluded.
The crowd at the courthouse erupted into applause for each speaker, but gave a standing ovation to Seizs last comment.
Also addressing commissioners was local resident Bill Ingram, who focused his speech on property rights.
We are petitioning for the natural, God given and unalienable right to own our property, he said. Some, who may even be well meaning, may think they know what is best for us and how we should best use our property.
Ingram called for commissioners to repeal the building permit and land use ordinances.
The building permit and land use ordinances are usurpations of land owners power over and control of his own property.
Croker got the last word of the night by telling attendees that no Antioch land deal had been made.
The option contract on the property, though, has not been officially rescinded and runs through the end of the year.
No official action was taken by commissioners at the meeting on the issue of the industrial park.
The next meeting of the Polk County Commission is scheduled for Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.