Thanks for showing Pless’ spiteful actions

To the Editor:

Thanks to Scott McLeod for pointing out the inappropriate control Mark Pless wants to have in local affairs.

Pless continues to support some ‘bad stuff’

Rep. Mark Pless, to put it bluntly, is a piece of work.

As promised, Pless strips Maggie Valley of development powers

The Haywood County Town of Maggie Valley has lost significant authority to exercise development powers after a bill promoted by its Republican representative passed on the afternoon of July 12 — despite a last-ditch effort for compromise. 

A week ago,  Pless held a press conference  decrying Maggie Valley’s Mayor, Mike Eveland, and two aldermen — John Hinton and Jim Owens — calling them “depraved” in a written statement.

At issue was a 2021 moratorium enacted on new campgrounds, shortly after four RV parks were approved within town limits. The moratorium extended not only to RV parks but also to RV Planned Unit Developments and RV storage facilities.

Pless opposed the moratorium and last week went so far as to offer any property owners who feel that they’ve been unjustly affected by the town’s development decisions a nuclear option: de-annexation from the town.

If enough people took Pless up on his offer, it would impact the town’s bottom line to disastrous effect. Currently, Maggie Valley’s tax rate is 40 cents per $100 in assessed value, but the town has less than 1,700 residents. 

De-annexed parcels with existing sewer and water connections could continue to use them by paying slightly higher rates as out-of-town customers, but property owners would no longer pay both county and town property taxes — only county.

That philosophy carries over into another aspect of Pless’  HB 184 , which not only disallows Maggie Valley from adopting, extending or renewing any temporary moratoria on development approvals but also prohibits the town from enforcing its rights to its extra-territorial jurisdiction.

Extra-territorial jurisdiction refers to parcels of land outside of municipal boundaries where cities and towns can exercise certain powers like zoning. Residents of ETJs don’t get to vote in municipal elections, thus having no say in how they’re governed by those municipalities, but they’re not on the hook for municipal taxes, either.

Eveland, Hinton and Owens have vehemently opposed Pless’ effort to tie the town’s hands, but two other aldermen, Phillip Wight and his wife, Tammy, have allied themselves with Pless on the issue.

Together, the Wights own the Clarketon Motel, the site of Pless’ earlier press conference, and say the moratorium affects their business.

“I can rent a room to who I want for the rest of my life, but I can’t create a PUD and have a nice high-end RV park that sells timeshares,” Phillip Wight told The Smoky Mountain News at the press conference.   

The bill, however, didn’t exactly sail through its final test.

Pless made a motion for the House to concur with the Senate version of the bill; however, a Buncombe County Democrat, Rep. Eric Ager, rose to ask Pless a question but Pless declined to yield.

When Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) pressed Ager on what he wanted, Ager asked for a compromise.

“It seems like there’s an option here to have the community come together and figure out a solution as opposed to just pushing one way or the other,” Ager said. “It seems like we have a small-town dispute. There’s people on both sides, and I think we could do a much better job of mitigating that dispute.”

Ager also asked for a recorded vote, rather than a voice vote. Pless didn’t respond to any of it, but Moore postponed action on the bill for about 15 minutes until it was again brought for a vote. It passed by a margin of 61-40.

Eveland told The Smoky Mountain News shortly after the vote that he’d sent emails to legislators in Raleigh opposing the bill, and that Ager was one of several who responded favorably.

Now, Maggie Valley will move forward under the restrictions for at least the next four years, unless something changes.

“I guess tomorrow we’ll start to see exactly what this means for us and get with our lawyer to see what we can do,” Eveland said. “I think it’s a blow to the Town of Maggie Valley — the folks that work there and the taxpayers of Maggie Valley. We got voted into office based on what voters wanted done. Pless has made clear we’re being punished for something we did 18 months ago.”

Eveland said the town recently hired a lobbying firm to advocate for its interests in Raleigh.

“Now we have to spend taxpayer money to protect ourselves,” he said. “We’ll just continue to roll on.”

The bill sunsets on Jan. 1, 2028.

Municipal election filing period ends Friday

The candidate filing period for November’s municipal elections that opened on July 7 ends this coming Friday, July 21, at noon, and although things are starting to solidify in some races, there have been and may continue to be some surprises. 

Rep. Pless aims to punish Maggie: Tries to limit town’s zoning authority, offers de-annexation for some residents

Mark Pless has escalated his war against three of the five Maggie Valley aldermen. 

Pless continues push for partisan elections in Haywood, Madison

What does a Senate bill giving the Apex Town Council the power to hire the town’s clerk have to do with partisan elections in Haywood and Madison counties? Everything, if you’re Rep. Mark Pless.

Pless makes progress with collaborative rehab proposal

For whom the bell tolls: As local leaders look to heal, Canton mourns its mill

Nearly three months ago, Pactiv Evergreen unceremoniously announced that after more than a century in operation, the paper mill at the heart of Canton would close. Since then, Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers has repeated an analogy comparing the community’s reaction to that of a death in the family.

A health care coverage crisis is unfolding at Canton’s paper mill

That the American health care coverage system is broken shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, even proponents of the 2010 Affordable Care Act who thought Obamacare would make coverage affordable for everyone. But as long as workers with employer-subsidized health care are forced to rely on the generosity of capitalists for their health and well-being, there will continue to be crises like the one currently unfolding with soon-to-be unemployed workers at Pactiv-Evergreen’s Haywood County facilities.

Abortion bill will test Republican supermajority

It’s been a little over a year since a draft of the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling was leaked, and a little under a year since the ruling was issued, overturning Roe v. Wade. Now, North Carolina’s Republican-dominated General Assembly will finally have its abortion bill — if they can get past Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s promised veto.

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