At this week’s Lubbock City Council meeting, a number of people showed up in beards to protest a potential Council decision to no longer show citizen comments on the televised meetings.

Some members of the group South Plains Advocates for Freedom, also known as SPAFF, donned regalia from the popular reality show Duck Dynasty to further illustrate their point.

Burley Owen, a SPAFF member, said “It has been said that Lubbock has its own Duck Dynasty problem. As you know, when Phil on that show spoke out on Christian principles, there were those that did not like what he said and tried to censor him by removing him from the show in order to take away his platform for speaking out.”

Owen continued, saying “The parallel and similarity to Duck Dynasty is that perhaps the City Council appears not to like what we are saying, so you want to take away the platform that we have to present counterpoints and raise questions about what the City is doing.”

Not everyone agreed with the bearded speakers.

“I’ve told some of you, and now all of you, that I disagree with the original decision to pull public comments from the City channel, but I understand why you did it and I agree with why you did it,” said Bill Curnow.

Curnow continued, saying. “I think there is value to hearing from the citizens and from the citizens watching this section on TV, but as the mayor and others have pointed out, this is not an appropriate venue to act childish and begin to attack personally the people sitting up there.”

Prior to the citizen comment portion of the meeting, Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson said “All citizen comments will be aired, as they have been in the past. We will have an item on the dais at the next meeting for this council to have, hopefully a very professional and calm discussion on if there is any changes we need to make.”

During Thursday’s meeting, the Council kept a closer watch on the comments of citizens that had signed up seven days in advance of the City Council meeting, with City Attorney Sam Medina gently reminding speakers to stay on topic to allow Council members the ability to respond, as laid out by the Texas Open Meetings Act.

The Council also gave unanimous approval to changing the zoning of an area in South Lubbock to accommodate portions of a new Walmart location.

During a City Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing on December 10th, 2013, a number of property owners from Orchard Park and Vintage Township expressed concerns with plans to place a Walmart location at 114th Street and Quaker Avenue.

The Walmart location was going to be built regardless of the Council’s vote on this issue, as this particular zone case related to outside display and storage along with the configuration of the store’s garden center.

At the commission meeting, citizens spoke out with concerns of the company’s practices, as well as concerns of noise, lights, and the size of the development.

The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended including a requirement for a landscaping buffer north of the location, which will include a 12-foot high dividing barrier and a minimum 25-foot landscaping barrier with mature trees. Walmart will also not be allowed any additional driveways other than the two proposed along 114th Street and the two proposed along Quaker Avenue.

No overnight parking will be allowed at this Walmart location.