Farms to parking lots, mountainsides to mudslides

Published 6:36pm Wednesday, October 10, 2012

To the Editor:
Just a few years ago, a majority of citizens of this county demanded that the county take action to prevent rampant development of the areas that make Polk County a special place to live, work and play. No one said they wanted to stifle growth. But, knowing that we will soon again be in the sights of developers, they did want protection from outside forces that only care for the quick return on investment and not for what is destroyed or left behind in the process. Several commissioner boards unanimously agreed across party lines to take steps necessary to protect the values of people’s homes and quality of life.
On Monday evening, Oct. 1, thousands of dollars spent and years of sacrificed hours in the lives of county citizens were thrown out the window on account of pure partisan ideologies on the part of two commissioners, and pure lack of conviction and leadership on the part of another. The two Republican commissioners have made it clear that they never had any attention of supporting a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). For them to vote for spending the time of citizen volunteers and money for professional planners on the UDO, and to then state that we should have just kept what we had to begin with, is a great injustice that should never be forgotten.
The rabble from their corner is now that any regulations will drive away jobs and take away liberties. Tom Pack demands to know what impacts the UDO will have on new development, and repeats that we cannot put in place regulations in this economy. When is the time to plan for the future? Based on what facts does he claim that smart growth regulations prevent companies from locating in an area? As a land planner for many corporations’ new locations, I know the things quality companies look for and they include assets such as good schools, good roads, a clean environment and a high quality of life for their employees. Pack, Owens and their cronies would gladly open the door to any and all types of development in our rural and mountainous areas. To encourage future unchecked sprawl across the farmlands and mountains is to disregard the value of the citizens’ property, in favor of the quick but temporary fix. When a government willfully encourages the destruction of property value and quality of life, in my book, it is “taking” and an affront to liberty!
It will now be up to a new board to decide the fate of this county and I pray that the citizens of this county will reject the notion that we should trash the UDO and our countryside, and vote accordingly for candidates who believe in our future. The UDO is and always has been an ordinance to protect the citizens and quality of life in this county from outside forces. Let us not let farms be turned to parking lots and our mountainsides to mudslides.
– Mark Byington, Tryon

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