Sterrett (JM) - Shelby County officials have contracted with Bosnian visionary Marija Lunetti to conduct a five-day charette in a field adjacent to the The Tabernacle of Our Lady's Messages
as part of the county's comprehensive "visioning process." During the charette, which is expected to draw thousands of stakeholders, Lunetti is expected to elucidate some of the regional planning principles she has gleaned from days spent in rapt communication with the most-blessed Virgin, mother
of Christ. She is also expected to pass out slips of paper on which participants can write down their own ideas, priorities, problems or questions and then to pin them up on large sheets of butcher-paper mounted to easels around the field. While most stakeholders demonstrate enormous faith in Lunetti's visioning process, others are skeptical of the effect this kind of planning may have on the county. Bobby Hamm, a
longtime county resident came to speak out against the threat of gentrification: "My two sisters and I have lived in a manufactured home on a lot my pappy sold me for $1 back in 1977. I don't need no Yugo-driving 'visionary' to come here and tell me we cain't have a mobile home." County officials said that mobile-home dwellers like Hamm have nothing to fear from the visioning process. "We're just out here to gather ideas and to plead for the supplication of the Holy Virgin. Any proposed changes to our zoning code will be vetted out over a long period of information-gathering, public input, and earnest prayer.
Hortensia Villanueva Patricia Salamanzar-Galbis, a recent immigrant from Guayaquil, Ecuador was eager to support the visioning process. She prays every day, she said through a translator, for the Kingdom of Heaven to be manifested by God's will here on Earth. Shelby County, with it's booming construction and service sectors, is already as close to heaven as she imagined, and she believes that Lunetti's visioning process can only bring it closer. Asked about specifics, Salamanzar-Galbis sighed heavenward and stated that she wanted enough land to plant a garden of her favorite vegetables. She currently lives with her husband and two of his cousins in a one-bedroom apartment in Columbiana. Attempts to grow crops in the grassy area behind the apartment building have been discouraged by the property manager, she said. "It has caused a lot of fights between my husband and the propietario."
Lunetti, in her opening statement, seemed to address the issue of competing interests directly. "Our Lady prays for peace to flourish between us. She prays for a balance between commercial development and protection of God's creation in designated conservation districts. Her wish is that flood management, cultivation and residential neighborhoods will co-exist in harmony. She will appear again to me at 5:45 PM. That is all."