A resolution condemning became a controversy itself Wednesday night, as the Fairfax Town Council split over whether or not the resolution would make the debate on the project more divisive.
“It sets a bad tone,” said Mayor Larry Bragman.
The resolution called for the debate to be “civil in tone, respectful of the applicants’ and public’s rights, and remain free of all acts of intimidation.” However, it also specifically called out opponents of the project as using tactics that would make Phil and Jill Lesh feel intimidated and unwelcome.
That, said a number of people in the audience, wasn’t fair.
At the heart of the debate was . According to Jill Lesh, signs saying “Stop Terrapin” were placed exactly along Phil’s morning walking route in Ross – suggesting that someone knew where Phil walked each day. Additionally, flyers were posted on cars at and a petition was presented to the Leshes.
Ross Police Chief Erik Masterson said there was no vandalism but a number of signs posted on telephone poles. No police report was filed.
The story, though, got passed on and rumors arose and it became, what Bragman called, “triple hearsay.” Because no police report was filed and no photographs were taken, people were also unsure about what exactly was on the flyers.
By calling out this specific incident in the resolution, a number of opponents of the project said that it was biased in favor of the Leshes and seemed to criticize all opponents of the project.
“Painting with a broad brush every opponent as being intimidating or terrorizing or creating an unwelcome feeling isn’t fair,” said Vice Mayor Pam Hartwell-Herrero.
A number of residents who live near the proposed project and have been vocal critics said they had also been yelled at or felt threatened by Jill Lesh.
Adrianne Peixotto, whose first concert was the Grateful Dead, said Jill called her cell phone and yelled at her, calling her a ring leader with a mob mentality, and accusing her of posting the flyers – which she said she didn’t know anything about.
“I think the resolution is great, but it needs to be generic without names, because it does feel accusatory,” said Peixotto.
The council discussed removing references to the Leshes and this specific project from the resolution, making it simply a call for civility, but David Weinsoff, who brought the resolution forward, asked for a vote as it was written.
“I’m greatly afraid this might be the beginning of a slippery slope,” said Weinsoff. “I want to nip this in the bud.”
However, Weinsoff was the only one who voted for the resolution. Council Member Lew Tremaine, who had originally said he supported it, abstained from the vote. Council Members Hartwell-Herrero, Bragman and John Reed voted no.
"This is a delicate point [in the discussion]," said Bragman, who thought passing the resolution and specifically calling out opponents of the project, without a police report or any direct knowledge of the incident, could further raise hostilities around the project and affect the council's neutrality. "We are not a grand jury."