There are many issues that will no doubt be debated anew tonight, when Gloucester's Planning Board and the City Council's Planning and Development Subcommittee reconvene to hear rebuttals to Monday night's public comments regarding the Beauport Gloucester LLC hotel rezoning plan.
But one that should not be part of the discussion is the absence of Mayor Carolyn Kirk, who has already submitted her administration's rebuttal statements in writing (see news story, Page 1) rather than attend tonight's second round of a public hearing.
It's understandable if opponents of the rezoning plan and any Fort hotel were taken aback when Kirk, who addressed the boards in support of the rezoning at the start of Monday's hearing, didn't stick around to hear their views live in City Hall's packed Kyrouz Auditorium. But Kirk also left prior to some of the pro-rezoning testimony — saying she would review all testimony, and noting most of all that she wanted to keep the hearing focused and not distracted by the views of the administration.
In that vein, she's absolutely right.
Kirk has clearly outlined her views on the rezoning, saying that she thinks it's appropriate for the site and that it's in line with the city's 2009 Harbor Plan. Hearings like tonight's and Monday's are frankly not times for political speeches by local officials.
They're times for Gloucester's residents to be heard.