What was said: take a drive-by tour of some steep slope comments

“A hundred years from now everybody in this room will have passed on but the mountains will still be baring the scars that we leave on them. We should respect these treasures that have been entrusted to us. The air that we breathe, the water we drink, and the space we share is what we have in common. Our collective space matters.”


— Stephanie Kompathoom

“To say, ‘Hey, let’s ease off these restrictions’ is just ludicrous.”

— Greg Hall

“We have historically placed limits on what people can do because we live in societies and communities. It is why we have government and why we hope our leaders govern well, wisely, and with their decisions based not simply what may prove popular with a particular set of interest groups at a particular moment, but what is best for most of us for decades to come.”

— Penny Smith

“Everybody owns the view. It is a public asset like clean air and clean water. It seems to be aesthetics have been relegated to a second- or third-tier concern. I want to know what studies told you aesthetics weren’t important. The board’s failure to recognize aesthetics caters to the short term special interests of some Realtors and some developers at the expense of the greater good.”

— Roger Turner

“The decisions y’all are making aren’t affecting me. They are affecting my children and my grandchildren and people that aren’t even born yet. I can see the same ridgeline today that ancestors saw. I can’t even imagine why you’d build on a ridgeline. I can’t even imagine. Why are we even thinking about changing this ordinance?”

— Boyce Deitz

“When we see vast roads cut into the hillsides of these mountains, there is very little concern about the effect they have on the landscape visually. That landscape is our bread and butter. That’s what people come here to see.”

—  Fitzallen Eldridge

“If I had known so many of you had this I probably would have stayed home, so thank you.”

— Catherine Carter, speaking to the large audience who turned out to speak against the revisions

“The proposed changes in density and ridge top development, if they are enacted, will make Jackson County as ugly as Banner Elk. That is not the future we want for Jackson County. Are these aesthetic concerns? Of course they are. We have a beautiful county. Don’t turn it into an ugly one.”

— Bill Curwin 

“This would be done for the sake of short-term economic gain for a few people at the expense of the greater community and our children. Let’s move forward together and not one step back.”

— Avram Friedman

“It is an erythema to me. These mountains are some of the oldest on earth. It is important for you folks not to scarify these mountain slopes. They have to be held as a legacy for our children and grandchildren.”

— Dan Perlmutter

“Tourism is so important and is the driving economic force of this area. Studies show the development of steeps slopes and ridges detract from the economic viability. The market that supports second homes over heritage and nature-based tourism is ill-advised. Development should not detract from but improve the quality of life now and in the future.”

— Geraldine Collins

“I don’t want to see those houses on the ridge tops. They are warts. They are always going to be there. If they want to see the other side of the ridge, cut a trail and walk up it and look over there.”

— Drew Hooper

“I am going to boilerplate what everybody else said here, but even stronger. I am for as much regulation as possible for environmental, aesthetic and economic reasons. We need to protect the natural beauty to sustain the vital tourism industry and because it is the right thing to do.”

— Maurice Phipps

“Pretty is what sells. All you people in the real estate business know that well, don’t you?”

— Bill Lyons

“You pull out the trees and what are you doing? You are wrecking the intersection of rainwater coming down and hitting the ground. You take the trees off the mountains? Trees have roots. Roots hold soil in place.”

— Ken Walton

“For those who say, ‘It is my land and I should have the right to do on it what I want’ — that is outdated. We can no longer afford the luxury of living in isolation amongst one another…Why do you think those rogue developers came to Jackson County to build their gated communities for their wealthy friends from New York and Florida? Because we had no rules.”

— Thomas Crowe

“I don’t know how you capture storm water on a 40 percent slope. How do you do it? Where do you put it? A big swimming pool? I’ve been in this 30 years and I don’t know.”

— Roger Clapp, on run-off from steep slope development muddying creeks and rivers

“I don’t even understand why we are considering backing up. Why would we so quickly after 2007 diminish the requirements? Some say that these proposed changes are being driven in part by money. Money to be spent and money to be made.”

— Susan Leveille

“I think this rewrite has more to do with ideology than facts, data or experience. It is a reactionary effort to jumpstart the economy, but is it really needed? We’ve had more deeds recorded and more building going on here than any surrounding counties, even with our strong regulations — or perhaps maybe even because of our regulations.”

— Adam Bigelow

“When I look up at houses on the ridge tops I am going to see your names. That will be your legacy.”

— Dave Nestler

“I do not want to bar the door to these newcomers. I welcome them but on the condition their homes don’t mess things up for the rest of us. They come here because it is beautiful, and we should not allow them or the developers who entice them here to destroy that beauty. I cannot understand why you wouldn’t want to protect that with every fiber of your being.”

— Julie Mayfield

“It is economically short-sighted and unwise. The main resource of Jackson County is our landscape. To clutter the landscape is to foul our own nest and poison the economic well for those who come afterwards. Restrictive regulations may cost more to build on, but that’s only proper and the rich will pay for it. To protect our economic future should be the guiding principal of this planning board.”

— Duke Smith

“We’ve been here for two hours, and no one has spoken in favor of changing the ordinance at all.”

— David Claxton

“People dream their dreams of a million dollar bill. 

Visualize it as another mansion on the hill. 

Cut a road to the top to look down from the sky.

Now, the messes they are makin` it`s enough to make you cry.

They are gradin` these roads way too steep.

And the cost we’ll pay later won’t be nowhere cheap.

Little thought’s ever given to our precious watersheds.

Now, come on, mountain neighbors, we have got to use our heads.”

— Dave Waldrop, who performed an original Appalachian ballad penned about steep slope protections

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