Polk tables ridgeline work for UDO

Published 6:46 pm Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Polk County Board of Commissioners tabled work on the ridgeline section of its proposed unified development ordinance (UDO).

Commissioners met on Monday, Feb. 4 and after being asked for direction from its planning board regarding Article 25, commissioners decided by a 4-1 vote to table work on that section.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson voted against tabling work on Article 25.

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Commissioner Tom Pack questioned Gasperson’s vote against tabling work asking Gasperson if he didn’t vote to pull that section from the UDO.

Gasperson responded that he did vote to pull the section but only temporarily so the planning board could work on the rest of the UDO first. The planning board has since finished work on the remainder of the UDO and asked commissioners for direction on work they had planned to do on Article 25.

Commissioners’ decision to table the ridgeline section caused a few residents to speak against their actions.

Lisa Krolak said Polk has one shot at protecting the mountains and ridgelines and everyone knows what the mountains look like in Hendersonville and Asheville.

“I drove to Maggie Valley last week and I just pray and hope Polk County will never look like that,” Krolak said.

David Weiss said Polk County has got to consider the consequences if building starts picking up again. He asked if the county was going to be faced with acting suddenly and having to rush to come up with protections. He said now is the perfect time to consider protections, not to table it. He also mentioned the county’s 20/20 Vision plan survey where most in the county said they want to protect the rural character of the county.

Christel Walter said it took many votes for the county to build the high school and residents will get mountain protections one day, she just hopes it doesn’t take too many times.

Commissioner Gasperson said he couldn’t support tabling Article 25 perhaps because he’s an eternal optimist.

He said he thinks at some point the county is going to see a steep slopes ordinance and an ordinance that is like the draft Article 25. He mentioned spending probably hundreds of hours at UDO meetings and planning board meetings regarding these documents and he saw a broad representation from citizens in this county.

“It’s truly a democratic process taking place,” Gasperson said, mentioning there was lots of discussion and compromise. “I’m very proud to live in a community where citizens are willing to spend huge amounts of time working on these documents.”

Commissioner Ted Owens clarified that the county is tabling work on the one section of the UDO (relating to ridgelines), not the entire UDO.

The current board has not discussed the proposed UDO. The previous board held a work session last November and left decisions up to the new board, which was sworn in during the December meeting.