Floyd County’s Planning Commission meets tonight to consider an updated comprehensive plan and the work by a dedicated group of volunteer members of the commission — along with superb staff assistance by Lydeanna Martin — is under attack want to derail more than a year of work on the plan.

It could be a long night. The Floyd County tea party is planning to pack the hearing.  At other public hearings this year, representatives of the group have called public servants “parasites,” verbally assaulted teachers in our county school system and claimed — incorrectly — that the Supreme Court declared the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional.  They have disrupted meetings by talking loudly among themselves and by throwing out sometimes sneering comments during meetings.

One of their issues is an incredible claim that the comprehensive plan is — somehow — part of a United Nations plot impose socialistic communal-style living to the area through an initiative called Agenda 21.  Such claims leave county officials shaking their heads in disbelief.

With luck, a reasoned discussion of individual rights versus community needs will emerge in the hearing but history suggesst reason leaves the building when zealots engage in political posturing and demagoguery.

Citizens — of course — have the right to express their opinions at a public hearing but no one has a right to knowingly spread false information. No one has the right to turn a public hearing into a sideshow.

Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. The county’s comprehensive plan deserves a open hearing with calm, rational discussion. No one benefits if the hearing turns into a free-for-all.

The hearing begins at 7 p.m. at the county administration building on Oxford Street.

Get there early. Space is limited.