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LETTERS / 750-Foot Setback Just Isn’t Enough To Protect Our Air, Water

Dear Editor and Watauga County Board of Commissioners,

Thank you all for hearing us on Tuesday.  I was there with my two young children and spoke near the very end.  I have reflected on the decision made Tuesday for 750 feet setbacks for homes, 1,500 feet setbacks for scenic byways, and would like to respond to this decision now.  It feels like an okay start, and I appreciated hearing y’alls thoughts at the end, too.  Hearing what everyone thought, in particular Commissioner Welch speaking out that these setbacks were not enough, made me and others feel like most of you really “got” the severity of this issue.

750 feet protects our views from our homes, and 1500 ft may protect the 421 site, though they could just move farther back or fight us some how, but what about our air?  our water?  What do we have in place that protects us long term, to save the quilts as Rashell Aunchman pointed out at the meeting?  What will keep us from being vulnerable to High Impact corporations, preserving the rich beauty and health of this land for generations to come?

I am confused as to why Maymead was given the opportunity to speak to us all, and you, as a solicitor, and the meeting was supposed to be about amending  the HILU ordinance.  Citizens were asked to keep our comments specifically to the HILU and Maymead was allowed to speak to us all as if asphalt plants are pioneers in environmentalism, as if we were 8 year olds being trained up to be the next generation of Maymead workers.  That woman – what she chooses to subject her children to is her own choice and the citizens of Watuaga County are just asking to make our own choice … for it to truly be a choice, not a health risk forced upon all the children in nearby schools and churches, let alone those that live near by.

As others pointed out in the meeting, we have been told lead paint, asbestos and DDT were all safe and now we know that is not true.  When fast food and soda was first marketed, it was made to seem healthy even, and we all know that is far from truth.   We have to look out for ourselves and make our own decisions .  And you all are charged with a unique position to look out for us, the people of your county.  We vote, we pay taxes that pay your jobs, we trust (or at least hope) that you have our concerns in mind.

Lastly, I want to stress how concerning it is to “table” the other proposed amendments to the HILU ordinance.  The people are asking for mandatory hearings before a permit is granted.  We are asking for 1,500 ft set backs for perennial waters, schools, churches and homes.  We are asking for a 1 year moratorium in order to research all the ins and outs of these issues and then make a Land Use ordinance that adequately supports and protects our home.

With these amendments tabled we are vulnerable to other business creating plant, dumping chemicals, or in general taking advantage of our lack of control on High Impact businesses.  And the people that live, breathe and love here year round are at risk because of it.  When can the community expect for you all to have a decision about further amendments?  Will there be more discussion where the public views are considered?

I am simply a concerned citizen.  I love this county, its mountains & its people.  I believe that people come before corporations.

Thank you for your time and I hope to work together in the near future,

Lis McCachren