Friday, July 20, 2007

Ditch the Ordinances

After all the months of hard work that have gone into developing subdivision and steep slope ordinances it is my sad duty to suggest that the proposed ordinances be voted down.

Pull the plug on the process and bring in some attorneys who know what they’re doing. As things stand now, it appears to be impossible to enforce existing regulations. If what I’m starting to hear from multiple sources is correct, Balsam Mountain Preserve is about to walk away from any responsibility for erosion violations in the months leading up to their golf course dam break.

The latest word is that an amendment has been added to legislation in Raleigh that would further eviscerate the county’s enforcement powers and would essentially allow Balsam Mountain Preserve to escape punishment for their actions.

If the county lacks the authority to assess and collect fines in a case as egregious as that of Balsam Mountain Preserve, we don’t need to be having any discussion about a whole stack of new and equally unenforceable regulations. We need discussions on what powers, if any, that the county actually CAN exercise to protect the health, safety and well-being of the people and the land in Jackson County. New ordinances that are ineffectual laundry lists of suggested practices and can be ignored with impunity? What’s the point of that?

If there’s a silver lining to this cloud, I hope someone will point it out to me. Otherwise, it’s time to stop the charade and be honest about the fact that developers can do any damned thing they please to destroy these mountains. They will not be held responsible for their misdeeds.

It certainly looks like they don’t have to worry about Jackson County’s ability to enforce regulations, now or in the future. And if that is the case, then the final public hearing on August 6 is the time to stand up and say:

Nice try, but we DON’T NEED the steep slope and subdivision ordinances.

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