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Speaker complaining about secrecy removed from Rolesville public meeting

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ROLESVILLE — Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles said he ordered a man removed from a public board of commissioners meeting Wednesday because he was tired of the man's accusations and claims against the town. 

George Ramirez was escorted out of the board's meeting by Police Chief Orlando Soto after Eagles ordered Ramirez out. Ramirez had been accusing the town of holding closed-door meetings with a developer. 

The incident happened while the commissioners were discussing a possible agreement with New York-based KDM Development to enter negotiations over developing town-owned land off South Main Street. The option-to-purchase agreement, which was approved by commissioners later in the meeting, would give KDM an avenue to purchase the land by the end of the year. The town has agreed not to sell the property to anyone else before then. 

During those discussions, Ramirez spoke up and asked Eagles if he would be allowed to comment. Eagles agreed to let Ramirez address the board. 

Ramirez then asked if the town bought the property in question with tax dollars. Eagles said it had. 

"How come the regular taxpayer is not being made aware of these negotiations that are going on?" Ramirez asked. "There were a lot of closed-door meetings here. Some said they were for real estate purposes. But the taxpayer is not aware of what decisions are being made." 

"I think the taxpayers are," Eagles said. The two men then began talking over each other. Eagles said Ramirez was trying to "stir" up the meeting, which Ramirez denied. 

Eagles then banged his gavel and said Ramirez was out of order and that the commissioners would resume their discussion. 

Ramirez laughed and said "fine." 

"Don't laugh," Eagles said. 

"I will sir," Ramirez responded. 

Eagles then directed Chief Soto to remove Ramirez, and Ramirez left quietly.

Ramirez, who Eagles said is not a citizen of Rolesville, could not be reached for comment following the meeting. 

KDM approached the town earlier this year with a proposal to build shops and townhomes on 11 acres near the intersection of South Main and West Young streets. Tentative plans also show the property having a civic building, such as a library or town hall. 

Commissioners on Wednesday said they are interested in making the civic building a space used for town events. 

KDM hosted a public meeting in early June to show citizens its vision for the plan, which was attended by an estimated 200 people. After Ramirez had been removed from the meeting, Commissioner Sheilah Sutton pointed to that public forum as an example of how the process has been public and not behind closed doors. 

Town staff said they had met with KDM three weeks ago to discuss the option-to-purchase agreement. Town Manager Kelley Arnold said that town staff and the town's attorney would likely spend many hours working on the details of the plan as negotiations move forward. 

The town has not established a price for what it will sell the land, but has agreed to negotiate the price in good faith with KDM. The town would have a say in what is built on the land should the sale go through - which is still far from certain, officials said. 

On Wednesday, the commissioners also voted to extend an agreement with KDM that grants the company access to the land to conduct environmental testing. 

Later, Eagles, who is not running for another term as mayor, addressed why he decided to remove Ramirez from the meeting. He said Ramirez has attended several other board meetings and "he gets rather rude." 

"I've had the police chief to follow him out into the parking lot after some public hearings and (Ramirez) goes out and starts preaching that to the people in the parking lot," Eagles said. "The chief has been monitoring him." 

He re-emphasized that Ramirez is not a citizen of the town. 

"So I finally got fed up with him," Eagles said. "I think the board's fed up with him. So that's why he got removed from the meeting. I'm just tired of him. I'm sorry. If you don't like it I'm sorry but that's it." 

State law says "a person who willfully interrupts, disturbs, or disrupts an official meeting" can be asked to leave by the presiding officer -- in this case the mayor - and if they refuse, can be charged with a misdemeanor.