To the Editor:
I attended last week’s open forum sponsored by the newly formed Cullowhee community planning group where local citizens are discussing and considering our community’s growth. In the face of record university enrollment and multiple apartment construction, a head-in-the-sand approach is of no benefit to anyone. Each of these new students and each of these new buildings require roads, parking, water, and sewer, not to mention amenities like additional sidewalks, bikepaths, and recreation areas. This growth, although welcome, impacts our county’s infrastructure.
This effort at community-based planning is a long time in coming. For over two years, Cullowhee Revitalization Endeavor hosted open meetings where citizens overwhelmingly voted to ask county commissioners to establish a planning council, similar to one formed in Cashiers. This process has begun with the formation of a formalized planning group and the appointment of citizens who represent a wide range of viewpoints.
In light of the progress made, it was particularly disappointing to read Mike Clark’s letter to the editor in last week’s paper. After all, Clark is one of those who serves on the planning group, but his letter appears to negate any interest in planning whatsoever. He raises a call of alarm, citing “ordinances, regulations, fees, fines and new taxes,” and warns against a “roomful of people who think they just have to control the property rights of others.”
Come on, Mr. Clark, aren’t you one of the people in the room? With such opposition, how can you hope to contribute to a process you appear to detest?
I only hope that other residents who are serving their community on the planning group are more open minded. As I said at the start of this letter, Western Carolina University seems poised for growth. Just as you would not accept more students without instructors to teach them, our county cannot encourage growth without planning (and building) the infrastructure necessary to accommodate them.