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LETTERS / Valle Crucis in Jeopardy

Dear Editor,

In March the Watauga County Board Of Education (BOE) entered into a contract to purchase 14.4 acres (the Hodges site) for 1.105 million dollars as a possible site for a new Valle Crucis School grades 1-8. They are offering to pay 2-3 times the market value of that land. 13 of the 14.4 acres are designated Special Hazard Flood Area and thus requires mitigation in order to build. Much of the reason that a new school is needed is due to flooding of the current school. It makes no sense to spend 35 million dollars to build a new school on a property with a high potential of flooding. The Board of Education has disregarded the State recommendation that calls for a school of that size to be built on a minimum of 25 acres. 
The Board of Education said “We have an obligation to the residents as well as the students we teach to be good stewards of the land and make sure the water and land is honored and kept as pristine as possible.”
And yet:
There has been no Environmental Impact Study. 
They commissioned an archaeologic study which has been deemed worthless by experts. 
They commissioned a Wetlands study that came with the disclaimer ‘This map shall not be construed to be an official survey of any data depicted. “
Already they have drilled a well which has tainted the water of a well on an adjacent property. 
They plan to place a 6,000 gallon per day sewage system of at least 3 acres in the floodway, situated between a Trout stream and the Watauga River. 
They want to introduce more than double the amount of impervious surface than is allowed, increasing runoff, pollution, flood potential and eliminating green space. 
The Watauga County Commissioners have applied to change the Valle Crucis Historic District Ordinance . They would like to be treated the same as a farm. A school is not a farm. 
They have asked to be exempt from all of the rules that are in place in order to protect the environment, the community and it’s rural character. If in fact they intended to be good stewards, this would not be necessary. 
In 7 months, BOE has only held one public hearing where residents could voice their opinion. Yet they claim they have the support of the community. 
They claim they have met with the adjacent landowners, yet they have not. 
They claim they have the support of the Valle Crucis Community Park, yet they do not.
They say they have the support of the Watauga Riverkeeper, and still they do not. 
This month, the Valle Crucis Historic District Commission met with residents to discuss this matter. The result was clear,  all present were against changing the ordinance as well as against  the proposed Hodges site.
And yet the BOE persists. And the County Commissioners still want to not be held liable to the standards of the Valle Crucis Historic District Ordinance. 
There will be a meeting concerning the amendment Oct. 15, 5:30 pm at 815 W King St in Boone. Please come and show your support for keeping Valle Crucis a Rural Historic District, and doing so in an environmentally responsible and community minded way.
Say no to the Ordinance Text Amendment and to the proposed Hodges school site.
Bill Pressly