Where Jackson commissioner candidates stand

Whether a grassroots movement to spark planning in Cullowhee dies or moves forward will rests with the next Jackson County board of commissioners.

A group of Cullowhee residents have called for development guidelines. Without standards, Cullowhee is vulnerable to unattractive development according to proponents. But, they need the county’s blessing to put them in place.

Two candidates facing off in a contested race for Jackson County commissioner have somewhat different views on the issue.

Commissioner Mark Jones said he supports the creation of a Cullowhee planning council to write community-based regulations.

“The answer is ‘yes, very much so,’” Mark Jones said.

He compared the effort in Cullowhee to a similar one in Cashiers several years ago. Cashiers has a community-driven land-use plan that lays out guidelines for commercial development and has ensured Cashiers’ aesthetic appeal.

“That’s why you have a nice looking Wendy’s with outdoor fireplace. These businesses are conforming to really make this a beautiful community,” Mark Jones said. “It has been a success for Cashiers.”

His challenger, Marty Jones, who also lives and works in Cashiers, agreed that overall the development guidelines have been good. However, they aren’t perfect, he said, and he believes they lacked a critical mass of community support at the time they were implemented.

Marty Jones wasn’t willing to weigh in definitively on whether he would support development guidelines in Cullowhee should he be elected county commissioner. He said he would first need to gauge how the majority of people in Cullowhee feel — and specifically whether those owning property in Cullowhee want planning guidelines.

“Is there a clear consensus among those who will be affected by a policy that they in fact want it?” Marty Jones said.

If so, then OK, he added.

“I would not support forcing spot zoning on an area in which a majority of the property owners within the proposed area oppose it,” Marty Jones said.

Vicki Greene, who is running opposed for an open seat on the Jackson board of commissioners, has gone on record supporting the Cullowhee planning effort.

Cullowhee, she pointed out in a previous interview during the primary election, is the fastest-growing community in Jackson County.

“It would be an exciting time to have an entity such as the county to take a leadership role in developing a plan,” Greene said at the time.

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