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Whispering Pines Wants To Limit Access To Public Records

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WHISPERING PINES, N.C. — Whispering Pines is a peaceful village with golf courses and public records, but officials want to limit the public's access to those records.

"It doesn't follow the spirit of the law," resident Joe Stout said.

"These are our records. We have a right to inspect them, and we're being denied that right," resident Bob Wagner said.

The village might limit access to just two hours a week and charge a fee for documents.

"We're received over 70 requests for information," Mayor Giles Hopkins said. "[It] obviously looks like it's pure harassment.

There has been some ill will in Whispering Pines for about a year. The village hired a new public safety director who had a run-in with the fire chief. The fire chief and seven of his firefighters quit. Several police officers have also retired or been fired.

Now, people in the village have started digging into the public safety director's background and requesting information.

"We're trying to ensure that all our residents are covered with proper safety," Stout said.

"What are you hiding? You must be hiding something if you are not going to let me have that record," Wagner said.

"The ordinance is not designed to prevent anybody from getting their hands on any document," Hopkins said. "It merely sets up a mechanism where we can do it in an orderly businesslike way."

Whispering Pines is forging ahead with its proposed ordinance in spite of the legal concerns and opposition. The village could pass the ordinance at its next regular council meeting on July 14.


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