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Cullowhee planning proposals set for Jan. 13 hearing

fr cullowheeA final public hearing to solicit public input on a draft set of standards to guide development in Cullowhee will take place on Jan. 13

After that, the draft standards will go to the planning board and then to the Jackson County Commissioners. 

“Our plan is to take whatever feedback we get from this next meeting and move forward with taking the proposal to the planning board and see if there’s any feedback from the planning board on making any revisions,” said Scott Baker, chairman of the Cullowhee Community Planning Advisory Committee. 

This will likely be the last public hearing that the advisory committee will hold, though the Jackson County planning board and commissioners may hold their own if the suggested standards continue to move toward adoption. 

“People just need to get involved,” Baker said. “The planning group itself is made up of all different opinions. We want there to be varying opinions — we just want people to be respectful of each other.”

Proponents of the standards have cited the need for some planning to guide Cullowhee’s evolution, as it’s now the fastest-growing area of Jackson County. On the flip side, opponents have decried the standards as an infringement on private property rights, unfair rules imposed on longtime Jackson County families by those who have only just arrived. 

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People of all persuasions will have the chance to voice their perspective at the upcoming public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13, in the Hospitality Room of Western Carolina University’s Ramsey Center. 


Comments, to be held to three minutes apiece, will be taken on all aspects of the standards, but the committee is particularly interested on hearing reaction to the changes it’s made since the last hearing in October. Those revisions include:

• Removing properties from the planning area — The revised standards exclude the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching and surrounding areas, most property west of N.C. 107, the Western Carolina University landfill off of Monteith Gap Road and the Rogers family property from the area to be affected by the rules. 

Of those areas, Green said, “some of them had no access and some only have access through a residential area and are actually in a neighborhood that is protected by restrictive covenants. The thought was that any development that could occur on those would have limited impact on the Cullowhee community.”

• Allowing single-wide mobile homes on residential property — The previous draft had allowed double-wide mobile homes but prohibited single-wides in areas other than mobile home parks. However, that change may not stand. 

“We’ve heard some comments from established residential areas that are concerned about mobile homes, so that may be tweaked some,” Green said. 

• Increased waterway setbacks for multi-family developments — The revised standards mandate a setback from the Tuckasegee River of at least 50 feet for housing developments with 12 or more units. All homes must be built at least 25 feet away from streams and rivers as a trout boundary and must also be built outside of the 100-year floodplain. 

• Mandatory sidewalks for housing developments — Developers must build sidewalks if their housing development includes 12 or more units.



Be heard

A public hearing on the revised Cullowhee development standards will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13, in the Hospitality Room of Western Carolina University’s Ramsey Center. The Cullowhee Community Planning Advisory Committee will hear comments on all aspects of the draft planning rules but is especially interested in hearing public reaction to revisions from the draft presented in October. There is no need to sign up to speak beforehand. 

Draft rules and a map are online at under the “Current Projects” heading. 

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