Town board welcomes more community input

Bryson City aldermen are quite aware of the rift created in the community over the Fry Street closure issue, but say they welcome residents and businesses alike to participate in the local government process.

Canton seeks input on bike and pedestrian plan

Cycling enthusiasts who want to help steer the direction of Canton’s proposed Comprehensive Bicyclist and Pedestrian Plan may want to roll on in to The Colonial Theater to have their say.

Public comment session at next commission meeting

The next meeting of the Haywood County Board of Commissioners will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20, inside the Historic Courtroom of the Haywood County Courthouse, in Waynesville.

Public survey could make or break Haywood library expansion

Hopes for a major renovation and expansion of the Waynesville library were temporarily shelved by county commissioners last year and remain in limbo, now hinging on a to-be-determined strategic plan for the entire library system.

Planning Jackson’s future: Preliminary comp plan comments yield mix of praise and concern

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.

Jackson County seeks input on draft comprehensive plan

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.

Supporting transparency is never a bad move

Let’s be completely honest: the Haywood County School Board’s long-time practice of recording its work sessions makes it one of the most transparent elected boards in the region. No other boards in Haywood County do the same, and I’m betting not many in the entire state record work sessions. For that, the school board should be commended.

So when School Board Chairman Chuck Francis announced Aug. 4 that the board would stop recording those sessions, many of us who argue for open government were incensed. When a board embraces openness, going backwards seems much worse and more suspicious. Because every presidential candidate since Richard Nixon in the early 1970s has released their tax returns, Donald Trump’s refusal to do so arouses suspicion.

Envisioning Sylva’s future: Town leaders talk economy, recreation and civic engagement

fr sylvafutureSylva’s town leaders spent a sunny Saturday indoors armed with pen, paper and heads full of ideas for bringing the small town toward a bright future. And while they may not have left the building with a perfect road map, the four-hour brainstorming session ended with some solid ideas for how to prepare Sylva for success.

Jackson public delivers message loud and clear: uphold steep slope rules

fr ordinanceA standing-room only crowd turned out for a public hearing on steep slope rules in Jackson County last week and implored county leaders to uphold existing protections against mountainside development.

Public absent in meetings where road projects decided

The way road projects get selected and prioritized in the state’s six westernmost counties might shift slightly following meetings this week and last by local government officials and transportation experts.

The method of weighing the projects will be tweaked to heighten safety issues. Crash data compiled by the state Highway Patrol will be factored into the equation. Elected officials serving on the Transportation Advisory Committee said, however, they want to see what that actually does to the alignment of projects before endorsing the approach.

How exactly the state Department of Transportation moves forward on road building and road improving has raised pointed questions recently about political and personal gain versus public good and needs. Controversy in the past couple months erupted over two projects in particular: Needmore Road in Swain and Macon counties and N.C. 107 in Jackson County.

The transportation department has proposed paving and widening a 3.3-mile section of Needmore, a gravel one-lane road beside the Little Tennessee River. Needmore cuts through the protected Needmore Game Lands, and opponents say the environmental risks posed are simply too great (see accompanying article on page 9).

In Sylva, the transportation department this month held a public information session on how traffic on N.C. 107 between Sylva and Cullowhee could be reduced. Concepts included widening and building a whole new connector road. At least 200 people turned out for the session, and Smart Roads, a local activist group, promised to monitor and publicize the process going forward.

For all the outcries, no one from the public was present at either of two meetings where a bit of the rubber meets the road when it comes to transportation projects in the far west: Jackson, Macon, Swain, Cherokee, Clay and Graham counties. One meeting was for county and town planners and other government officials, a second was held Monday night for county commissioners and town council members.

Southwestern Development Commission, a regional planning group headquartered in Sylva, organized the get-togethers.

 

Who does the planning?

In the state’s six westernmost counties, road planning is headed up by the Southwestern Development Commission, headquartered in Sylva, which serves as the lead-planning agency for the rural transportation planning organization (RPO).

Southwestern Commission provides staff and GIS (geographic information system) support. The RPO consists of a technical coordinating committee (government officials) and a transportation advisory committee (elected officials). The government officials, as in real life, exist simply to make staff-level recommendations to the elected officials, who make the policies.

 

Here are the stated goals of the RPO:

• To provide a forum for public participation in the rural transportation planning process and serve as a local link for residents of the region to communicate with the transportation department.

• To develop, prioritize and promote proposed transportation projects that the RPO believes should be included in the State Transportation Improvement Program.

• To assist the transportation department in publicizing its programs and service and providing additional transportation-related information to local governments and other interested organizations and persons.

• To conduct transportation-related studies and surveys for local governments and other interested entities and organizations.

• To promote transportation as a regional issue requiring regional solutions.

Page 3 of 4
Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.