Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cowee Rockstars!

Check this out and learn about Norma's porch.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Victory against the proposed concrete plant!

Board unanimously rejects concrete plant

After seven hours of testimony, public comment and deliberation Wednesday night, the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment voted unanimously to deny a conditional-use permit for a concrete plant proposed for north Buncombe County.

Blue Ridge Concrete, an offshoot of a Savannah-based company, applied nearly a year ago for a permit to build a plant on Murphy Hill Road near the intersection with Old Mars Hill Highway. Since then, neighbors of the site have argued that the area, though open zoned, is actually a residential community unfit for a concrete plant’s industrial nature. (Pictured at right is the site of the proposed plant.)

Community activist Martha Claxton, organizer of the North Buncombe Community of Concerned Citizens, said that she was elated with the 7-0 vote to refuse the permit. She’d expected a victory, she added, but not necessarily such a decisive one.

Roughly 300 people showed up at the hearing held at North Buncombe Middle School, a site picked after a March hearing venue was too small to fit the turnout of opposition.

Meanwhile, Blue Ridge Concrete still owns the Murphy Hill Road property, but there is no word as to what is next for the company. Owner Mark Turner had no comment after the decision.

Look for full coverage in the May 21 issue of Xpress.

Brian Postelle, staff writer

A New Model For Growth

"A conspiracy against property rights? (An opinion letter from the Franklin Press)

Have you followed the Mountain Landscapes Initiative story in our local press? What great promises they make. We will have a neat, clean, orderly community, consisting of seven western counties, because participation by the people will make the laws MLI drafts righteous. Now here is the rest of the story.

The Lawrence Group from St. Louis, specializing in "New Urban Planning," will be conducting the meetings. Someone from St. Louis is supposed to tell us how to plan here in the mountains?

Let's be clear, they will be preparing land use plans that will impact our property rights. But how can environmental groups or non-government offices like Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, Western North Carolina Alliance, Preservation North Carolina, Cowee Community Development Organization, or even the Department of Transportation draft laws that affect us? What happened to the "peoples voice" concept. Are special interest groups like these appropriate to draft laws for us, the citizens and taxpayers? No, they are not!

We need to be clear-the central planning which MLI proposes is directly opposite to our present model of property rights and property management. Why are we being offered a new model when there is nothing wrong with the present one?

Central planning like this has been tried over and over but always comes to an unsatisfactory end. America was not founded on socialism.

All of this begs the question. Why did our commissioners pay Mountain Landscapes Initiative, a non-governmental organization, $10,000 to write laws that will have a serious impact on our property rights and not require any accountability? Further, MLI was not voted in so it cannot be vetoed out. Which, in my opinion, makes them very dangerous as they will be around indefinitely, chiseling away at our property rights.

Norman Roberts


Thank you, Norman Roberts for taking the time to voice your concerns in the Franklin Press.
Without viewpoints such as yours we would not have the opportunity to have these discussions that the Mountain Landscapes Initiative is facilitating.

You ask, "Why are we being offered a new model when there is nothing wrong with the present one?"

Let's unpack that for a minute. First of all, lets talk about the "offering" of this new model. The Lawrence Group, based out of St. Louis, are only consultants. A consultant is someone who offers advice on an area of expertise, and it just so happens that the Lawrence Group are experts at architecture and planning. But we here in Western North Carolina are also consultants- we are experts at knowing the changes in the land- whether it is a natural change or a man-made one. That's why locals are involved in this process. While the Lawrence Group may be sophisticated and very savvy at the general principles of architecture and planning, we, the people of WNC, know what has and has not worked in this region for many generations. The end result, therefore, will not be an "offering" on the Lawrence Group's part of a new model, but a collaborative effort between experts in planning and experts of WNC to create this new model.

Which brings us to our second point- the present model is NOT working. Look up at your mountains for a minute. We are looking at ours right now, and they are beginning to look like patchwork home sites for 9,000 sq ft homes. Whether or not you think this is right is not the point- at some point this development begins to effect the area around it. Locals are being taxed off their land that has been in their family for generations because of the rise in property value due to the rise in demand for that property. Wells are running dry because of the added pressure that development is putting on our aquifers. Houses are being built in areas that are destined for major landslides- which is not only unsafe for the new homeowner but is also very dangerous to the locals in the valley below. Residents are terrified that they are loosing grip on the beauty and serenity of a mountain lifestyle that their families have stayed here for generation after generation. These are only a few of the issues that accompany unbridled development.

On that tone, we recognize that growth WILL happen, but we want it to happen on our terms. We do not want to pay the cost- rising taxes and the like- for the pressure that large, unplanned developments are putting on our infrastructure. We don't want to deal with the long term effects that a developer from Florida imposes on us when he/she is here to make a quick buck and then leaves. This is OUR community, and while we are excited to have a new diversity and new faces to look at and share it with, we want it on OUR terms.

This is not socialism. This is regionalism. We are proud of our communities and landscape and want to see them stay in tact for hundreds of years to come. This doesn't mean unchanged- it means promoting the values of this area that our great-grandparents would be proud of. When it comes down to defending property rights, we are on the same page- we just want to have something left to defend.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Haywood County Rockstars!

The Haywood Community Alliance is a group of rockstars who are working hard to protect the communities and mountains in Haywood County. Since their inception, they have created model ordinances for the County Commissioners to implement, activated other members of the community through a petition requesting an environmental disclosure statement from developers of large subdivisions, and started their own campaign to raise awareness about development issues in Haywood County.

So basically they rock. Here is a recent video taken by the Mountain Landscapes Initiative (find out more at http://www.mountainlandscapesnc.org/) featuring two of our active members of the Haywood Community Alliance.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ways to be even cooler than you already are!

If you are feeling lonely or depressed, we have the perfect cure! Just buy one of our "25th Anniversary" t-shirts for only $18 bucks and you will have new friends glued to you! It has been statistically proven. Here are some testimonials:

"My life sucked until I invested in the future of WNC through the purchase of the WNC Alliance's 25th Anniversary t-shirt. While wearing it, I immediately became the life of the party, and it seemed like everybody wanted to get to know me. I met my wife through her attraction to my t-shirt. I had to buy seven so that I could wear a clean one every day of the week!"

"I was in and out of therapy for years until I bought the WNC Alliance's cure-all t-shirt. Now I am happy all the time!"

"I finally got the promotion I was waiting for once my boss saw how hip my new t-shirt was."

It's plain to see that this t-shirt will change your life! Act now! Buy one today! Call 828.258.8737 to place your order!

The back of this totally cool shirt.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Making Mud Creek not so dang muddy (or trashy)!

Mud Creek, the stream that runs through Jackson Park in Henderson- ville, is accurately named as it is mostly brown and it smells bad. Unfortunately the fact that this body of water is muddy is not the river’s fault, but can be partially attributed to the mounds of trash dumped or thrown haphazardly into this delicate ecosystem.

The environmental club at Rugby Middle School in Hendersonville named “The Rugby Rose Team”, along with the WNC Alliance, worked hard on April 12th to clean up a section of Mud Creek to alleviate the trash problem. This event was sponsored by American Rivers as part of 2008’s National River Cleanup. All in all, we pulled about 12 bags of recycling and 8 bags of trash- which included fast food wrappers, Styrofoam, lost camping gear, fishing lures, tires, bottles galore, t-shirts, broken pottery, pants, tin cans, balls, and several mismatched shoes. (If you are missing any of these items please contact the WNCA office. No, just kidding!)

The Rugby Rose Team (http://rugbyroseteam.com/) is in the process of planning a second river clean-up event at Mud Creek, so if you are interested in getting involved contact Ryan at 258.8737. We would love to have you join us! We would also like to give a special thanks to the staff at Jackson Park for hauling our trash for us, and to Hartwell Carson at Riverlink for loaning us the waders so we would not get wet- or too wet, as it turns out!

Missssssss Metcalf, you look stunning in those waders!

The Office Buzz

We have been experiencing many needed changes here at the WNC Alliance recently, all to make our environmental work in the community even more effective.

First of all, we started making coffee twice a day. This has increased staff production exponentially.

We have also added on new staff, including a real-life bookkeeper, a capacity-building AmeriCorps Vista volunteer, a not-so-new community organizer/membership and outreach director, and a new Executive Director who starts the 2nd of June. We have two new chapters (Haywood and Buncombe) with a third in the wings- Henderson. We have expanded our outreach to include the Latino Communities in both Buncombe and Henderson, and to that regard have a new Panamanian Steering Committee member. We have a new chair of our Executive Committee- DJ Gerken, who is not only extremely intelligent but also makes everyone around him feel as smart as he is- a great quality to have in a leader.

And we are going through a strategic planning process to increase our effectiveness in our region. We plan on a revamp of the group to figure out what is working and what is not. We continually strive to include our rich 25 year history into our daily work while working to make our group even more progressive. It's not an easy task, but the sooner we master this, the better off we will be!

You should come visit us at our office. 29 N. Market St: It's the new coolest place to hang out.

Not once in our 25-year history have we ever been known as the Waratah National Cat Alliance. FYI.