Bright responds to McDermott’s comments on MRPO proposalPublished 6:37pm Monday, May 14, 2012
Editor’s note: Henry Bright, a member of the UDO committee and the Saluda Planning Board issued the following statement in response to Polk commissioner Renée McDermott’s statement on proposed changes to the MRPO.
I have read commissioner Renée McDermott’s statement concerning the proposed amendments to the Mountainside and Ridgeline Protection Ordinance (MRPO), which appeared on page 6 in the Tryon Daily Bulletin
It is unfortunate that Mrs. McDermott has chosen to distort and misrepresent many of the facts surrounding this issue.
First, Mrs. McDermott states that I was “unaware” of various issues and consequences prior to making my proposed amendments at the final meeting of the UDO committee on May 9. This is far from the truth. I have been a member of the UDO since its inception two years ago. I was also a member of the 20/20 Visioning Committee, which developed Polk County’s comprehensive development plan. Currently, I serve as the chair of the Saluda Planning Board.
I am a proponent of equity and responsible growth for the entire county. Mrs. McDermott’s alarm bells concerning “unlimited commercial exploitation and a proliferation of 8,000-square-foot metal buildings” weren’t sounding off when she voted for those very same things at elevations below 1,650 feet. Where was her concern for the beauty of Polk County then?
Additionally, Mrs. McDermott states that the 30-percent slope criterion mentioned in my proposed amendments was contrary to the input of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Yet, the UDO Committee has already adopted ordinance language at 1,650 feet elevation and greater that provides specific requirements for slopes of 30 percent or more.
These requirements include: soils report; hydrology report; erosion and sedimentation control, etc. Thus, if the county planning board and commissioners approve of the UDO’s amendments, the above protections of our mountain terrain and ridgelines will apply to all of Polk County and will no longer be an ordinance for just 1,650 feet and higher.
Mrs. McDermott states that I “rushed” this through the UDO committee on one night, without any prior notification or without any opportunity to determine its full implications. This is simply not true. The committee has had numerous discussions on this issue over the past several months. Many citizens have turned out to the UDO meetings, most to show their concern over this inequitable elevation requirement. I have personally had discussions with Mrs. McDermott and other committee members prior to the May 9 meeting.
While Mrs. McDermott criticizes that I did not have enough written copies of my motion for all members, the fact of the matter is that most of the proposals before the committee are done orally, with nothing written handed out in advance.
Contrary to Mrs. McDermott’s statement, I had no power to “force a vote” by the committee, but did insist on a showing of hands in support or opposition. The majority of the UDO Committee agreed with the amendments.
Protecting our beautiful mountains is important to me; so are equity and the ability to have responsible growth in all areas of the county.
Going forward, it is imperative that we all work to have our voices heard at the upcoming county planning board meetings.