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Alliance opposing NC 191 widening wants to petition at town park

MILLS RIVER — A group trying to stop the N.C. 191 widening is appealing to the Mills River Town Council for permission to collect petition signatures at the town park.

 

Two Mills River employees stopped a volunteer from collecting signatures on a petition at Mills River Town Park asking the Henderson County Board of Commissioners to delay and redesign the planned four-lane divided highway from School House Road to  Mountain Road, the N.C. 191 Alliance said in a news release. The employees told the volunteer that no soliciting was allowed on Town property. “It shall be unlawful for any person or organization including non-profits to engage in soliciting, advertising, peddling, begging or selling, without permission of the Town of Mills River Town Council at any park within the Town,” the Mills River ordinance says.
Phil Rasmussen, a leader of the Alliance, contacted the interim Town Manager Mark Burrows, who advised that the group could appeal to the Town Council. Rasmussen submitted a request to the Town Council and is waiting for a response. Anyone interested in signing the petition online can do so by visiting 191Alliance.org
"Since 1895, the US Supreme Court and many state courts have weighed in on a person’s right to petition, where they can exercise their 1st amendment rights, and under what conditions," the Alliance said. "The Supreme Court has stated that public streets, parks, libraries, and the grounds of legislative bodies are open to public demonstrations with limited conditions such as not impeding traffic, pedestrian flow into or out of buildings, not creating a safety issue.
"This is an especially egregious issue in Mills River because the Town Council supports a 5-lane NC-191 from the Boylston Highway to School House Road. Many residents object to the five lanes and have stated that their concerns have been ignored."

More than 2,000 people have signed the petition to date, the Alliance said.