The following editorial is from the May 12, 2016 issue of the Carroll County Independent
The expression, “trust, but verify” comes from a Russian proverb. It was made famous by President Ronald Reagan during his successful attempt to open relations with the Soviet Union between 1984 and 1987. It has come into common usage that means, according to Wikipedia, “a form of advice given which recommends that while a source of information might be considered reliable, one should perform additional research to verify that such information is accurate, or trustworthy.”
It certainly should be a watchword today in our national politics where politicians make statements of apparent fact that, when checked, turn out to be half-truths at best and simply not supported by fact at worst.
Here in Carroll County, in Ossipee, we are being reminded of how the proverb applies even in local zoning deliberations. As our correspondent Carol Holyoake reports on our front page this week, some statements made by George Ferdette from SFC Engineering Partnership on behalf of the campground owners, Michigan-based Northgate Resorts to the Ossipee Zoning Board of Adjustment on March 8 in support of a request for a special zoning exception have failed the verification process.
Holyoake writes, “Purportedly, several organizations that SFC said they had been in contact with and had support from with regards to their ZBA special exception, have denied such contact and will be demanding a retraction from SFC, a correction to the minutes, and possibly a revoking of the granted special exception.”
The project under review by the ZBA and now the Ossipee planning board is a major expansion of the existing Westward Shores Campground & Marina on Ossipee Lake, a key natural resource for both Ossipee and Freedom, The developers propose to more than double the number of camp sites from 258 to 522. While few question the right of the owner/developers to undertake such a major project, many have very legitimate concerns about the potential negative impact on the lake if the project is not well designed and carefully built.
Ossipee Lake is not only a major recreational asset for both towns it also sits on top of the largest stratified drift aquifer in our area. Poor plans and/or execution would not only depress property values on the lake (and thus lower a major source of property tax revenues for both Freedom and Ossipee) but could hurt tourism and the major watch source for thousands of people.
It is troubling that issues of trust have arisen in this project. We would like to believe questions about the statements made will be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, but such doubts breed mistrust and provoke a higher level of scrutiny of the project than there would be otherwise.
Paying closer attention and asking more questions is actually a good thing. While we don’t think it is good for anyone to be against anything that increases economic activity, all local boards need to remember that Russian proverb and not accept statements as facts without verifying them.
Or, as our own pioneering American folk hero Davy Crockett said, “Be always sure you’re right – then go ahead.”