The Buncombe County Commissioners hosted their third community meeting of the season tonight out in Swannanoa. The highlight of the evening was Dede Styles’ commentary on zoning. A lot of the concerns she shared about Lyda Cove were those heard in the way back when over in Sandy Mush. Styles said money talks. People can homestead for three and four generations. They can buy land and take care of it, put up a farm and raise crops, put up a house and raise kids. Then, the rich and the beautiful will buy a second home and complain their country ways are obsturbing the viewshed.

Styles complained how the rich and the beautiful had enough influence to prevent an attempt to restrict the color of paint they may use on their McMansions on the hill. Meanwhile, the county planning board tells those who can afford to live in no better than a trailer how the roof must slope. In two instances, the board did not allow young men returning from a tour of duty (presumably putting their lives on the line to defend the home turf, their families, their neighbors, and politicians and planners alike; and to defend those rights politicians so cavalierly choose to vote away) to put up a trailer on family land to start a family.

One time, changing the zoning to allow a mobile home would have resulted in spot zoning. Consequently, the neighbors, in a gesture to be expected from country folk in these hills, decided they would all request a change from R2 to R3 to help their friends and honor a vet. Because that’s what they do.

Iris Sluder finished the story. The planning board did not approve the mobile home because sewer and septic did not meet code for two dwellings. The county kept the $200 application fee paid by the poor family for nothing. And the couple lived happily ever after, in Woodfin, where living was more affordable and regulations more navigable.

Chair David Gantt countered that county staff worked very hard with people to collect their taxes, making it sound more like a favor than I can. Gantt said he had asked Gary Roberts, a.k.a. the Compassionate Tax Collector, point blank, if the county had ever forced anybody off their property, and he had said no. We, of course, share different definitions of force.