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LETTERS / More Work To Be Done on High Impact Land Use Ordinance


Dear Editor, Watauga Commissioners and Friends:

I support the currently proposed moratorium on class 2 and 3 HILU because though part of the problem was solved last night in the Planning Board meeting, (Chemical manufacturing and storage as well as Explosives will probably be moved to Class 1), there are other critical issues remaining with that ordinance that probably will not be addressed without the focus a moratorium provides.  Those include at least some spacing from homes for all HILU (there is none currently for class 2 & 3), notification procedures and hearings about applications, the non-transferability of permits, and stiffer penalties for rule breakers.

Some have asked that a public hearing for all HILU applications be included in the  HILU ordinance.  Two reasons come to mind why that might not be a bad idea.  One.  Every citizen has the right to know what is happening in their county, whether it is for reasons of investment, property  values, health or a dozen other reasons. Without the publicity that a hearing  provides, information tends to slide under the radar.

The second  one is that there may be reasons a location is inappropriate that Planning and Inspections is not aware of, as recently demonstrated.  Government needs to be efficient, but not at the expense of valuable citizen input.  I was struck by a comment  from a planning board member last night who suggested  in relation to the race track noise issue that possibly they should research what other communities with racetracks have done.  Some would have thought that would have been the obvious first thing to do.

A way to facilitate being able to have those hearings would be a provision in  the HILU ordinance to gives the county the ability to evaluate a HILU application based partly on the unique attributes of its location, such  as cultural landmarks, microclimate conditions, etc.  If not a public hearing on every HILU application, then at least a review by the planning board would seem appropriate. High Impact permit approval should not be the decision of one department head.

Thank you for your continued work on these issues, and I urge citizens to once again attend the Watauga Commisioners meeting tonight, 7/21, at 5:30.

David Sengel