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Opinion Letters There’s still time for slope development regulations

Wildflower is back, and a lot of people are worried, especially here in the northern part of the county. From the time the first developer spoke to a crowd of over 200 at Cowee School and said, “You people will need to upgrade your community for my clientele,” and “You people (How could the man think that was an acceptable way to address the people whose community he was moving into?) are going to need affordable housing ...” the thing has not set well on our minds. Then came the flood of sediment into streams, trout ponds and the river as the steep roads were gouged out. People were buying lots sight unseen on the internet, because real estate was hot and was only going to get hotter.

Then came the crash—with foreclosures, lawsuits, damage to our local financial institutions—and to the reputation of Macon County.

The lots set empty, the roads began to crumble, big rains brought on the landslides, the weeds grew up.

But a lot of us didn’t forget and we wanted protection in the future.

We worked hard to get sensible slope development regulation— but it didn’t happen. Now, the lots are back on the sale block. What are the “fire sale’ prices going to do to the real estate comps, and the hopes of other landowners and realtors to sell a piece of land at a fair price? What assurance do we have that the development will be done well this time? What control do we have? Do the people looking at lots up there have any idea about the North Carolina Geological Survey Slope Movement Hazard Maps? Do they know there are unstable soils up there? Down here in the valley, we know it.

But perhaps something a little bit good can come out of this. Perhaps we can put aside the name calling, the politics, the special interest protection, and the shortsightedness and plan for a better situation in the near future. We can put in place slope development regulation that will make sure that the guys who do a good job don’t get undercut by the cheap shortcuts of the careless and uncaring. We can protect the interests of the home builder, the downslope and upslope neighbors, and our precious mountain environment.

Because this is only phase one of the planned project. There are still hundreds of acres to go up there.

Susan Ervin — Franklin, N.C.

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