by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
I somewhat enjoyed the Buncombe County Commissioners’ meeting last night. I think it was probably because there were a few occasions when people voted as I would have. They were small minorities, but it felt good to hear people trying to embrace the big picture, and not the small pictures that are referred to as big pictures in political discourse, which would never refer to itself as political discourse.
On one issue, the county was going to rezone an area from Weaverville’s ETJ. Commissioner Ellen Frost, as she often does, stressed that the county was in a difficult position because of the strong-arming of the General Assembly. County Planner Josh O’Conner explained county staff tried to give plots zonings from the county’s assortment that were as close as possible to those they received from Weaverville’s.
There was a little problem. A big problem was zoning, and if the new maps weren’t adopted within ninety days, there would be no zoning in that area, and I could go for that. The little problem was a scrivener’s error that transformed a piece of commercial property into a residential area. Furthermore, the landowner was in the middle of transacting a transfer of that parcel, and he feared the miszoning could kill the deal.
County Attorney Mike Frue and O’Conner explained they couldn’t just correct the booboo, because all the neighbors would have to be noticed and given statutory time to respond. Attorney Craig Justus suggested if the commissioners couldn’t outright change the zoning, they might just leave the parcel unzoned until all the rigmarole could be completed. In all seriousness, the zoning only applied to the property owner(s), but now that we have transformed from a nation of property rights to one of community rights, the zoning is at the mercy of the pot smoker down the road.
Commissioner Holly Jones explained, surely for lame minds as mine, that the single party was inconvenienced for the good of the whole. Precedents could be set. I say that laws are a means to happy and healthy people, and not the other way around. Causing somebody to lose a big real estate deal because of a typo was no more than pomp and circumstance.
Now, maybe Justus, who tends to be on the right side of issues he argues before local government, was trying to undermine the whole zoning initiative. You know, derail the program until deadlines pass, set broad precedents, etc. If that were the case, in my current, puny frame of mind, I’d say, “Have at it.”
Joe Belcher and Mike Fryar voted against the zoning amendments.
In a second matter, Joe Belcher voted against giving $74,625 plus reduced rent and purchase price for the county-owned spec building to Wicked Weed. He said he could not use tax dollars to support the brew industry, and I agree. I agree even when “the brew” is omitted from that sentence.
Greg Gutfeld said one definition of cool is the inability to say no. Belcher was not cool, and I applaud.