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Approval of a 38-home subdivision in Cullowhee has served as a catalyst for the Jackson County Planning Board to revisit the county’s steep slope ordinance, a controversial piece of legislation that passed in 2015 after nearly three years of heartfelt debate. If the last few planning board meetings are any indication, the next round of steep slope discussions will also be a lengthy and complex conversation.

Making their way around a room studded with tables, informational posters and documents for review, Jackson County residents took advantage of their first opportunity — Tuesday, Nov. 29 — to see where county leaders envisioned steering the county over the next 25 years.

Cold temperatures have arrived, but efforts to ensure the future of Jackson Neighbors in Need are heating up. 

As the saying goes, change is life’s only constant — so Jackson County is looking for input to guide its approach to the changes that the next 25 years are likely to bring.

Jackson County government will flip to the Republican side once again following successful campaigns from Ron Mau and Mickey Luker, Republican candidates for county commissioner who managed to oust Democratic incumbents Vicki Greene and Mark Jones. 

Mere months after the much-debated Cullowhee Community Planning Standards became county ordinance, commissioners are set to consider a pair of changes to the rules following a public hearing at 5:55 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, in room A201 of the Jackson County Justice and Administration Building.

After months of back-and-forth, Harris Regional Hospital and Jackson County have reached an agreement on the hospital’s tax value.

Jackson County may have thought it was finished talking about its steep slope ordinance for a while when a much-debated revision to the document passed in 2015, but the planning board is gearing up to address yet another facet of the ordinance — which ridges in the county should fall under the definition of “protected mountain ridge.”

Western North Carolina is rife with trails and maps to facilitate exploration of the mountain landscape, but an effort is underway to add a new kind of trail to the mix — a blue trail.  

“A hiking trail is a great way to help people explore and discover and connect to the land. A blue trail is a way to allow people to discover and explore and connect to rivers,” explained Mandi Carringer, river conservation associate for American Rivers. 

Smoke is clouding the Sylva area following the eruption of a wildfire Sunday, Oct. 23, which grew to about 374 acres by Tuesday morning, Oct. 24. Take a drive along U.S. 74, and you’re likely to feel an itch in your throat from the smoke. Look for a mountain view, and the slopes ahead will appear covered by a gauzy haze.

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