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Jackson County’s subdivision ordinance is destined for more tweaking by the planning board.

The planning board spent several months revising the county’s four-year-old subdivision ordinance before sending the recommended changes along to county commissioners for approval this week. Commissioners promptly sent the revised ordinance back to the planning board for more review, but not before some speakers expressed their vehement displeasure with the proposed changes. Others said during a public hearing that they, however, believed commissioners were on the right track to “streamline” the rules.

Not all the commissioners are convinced the ordinance needs changing.

“This puts the developer first, and the potential homeowner and environment second,” Commissioner Joe Cowan said, adding that he hated “to see this watered down with one fell swoop.”

While some of the proposed changes are more favorable to developers, others are more strict. Other changes are aimed at simplifying the language, such as stipulating that road building follows state standards instead of dictating those standards verbatim, as done in the current ordinance. Cullowhee resident Roy Osborn said some of the changes make sense but cautioned that he believes Planner Gerald Green’s expressed desire to “balance the needs of developers, future subdivision property owners, the environment and the citizens of Jackson County” is mistaken in its emphasis: leave out the developers, Osborn said, and the planner’s got it about right.

“This structure better prioritizes ‘needs’ from the global to the individual perspective,” he said.

Additionally, Osborn suggested adding language requiring engineers and land surveyors to provide “rigorous cost estimates” of surety bond amounts. This, he said, would help ensure that planned roads are completed if the developer defaults. He also said that if initially approved design thresholds are exceeded, such as increased slope or lessened roadway width, then a “certified roadway design professional” should be involved in a variance review.

But, Roger Clapp of the Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River said with just a few adjustments, he could support the proposed ordinance changes.

“It is rural mountain roads that supply mud to the streams, first and foremost,” Clapp told commissioners.

And, in fact, he said, the ordinance changes proposed by Green and the planning board would largely help the environment. They would do that by reducing the footprints of roads — which would only have to be 14-feet wide instead of 18 feet.

“A smaller footprint means less construction work, thus it’s cheaper. And also less impact, which is good for the environment,” Clapp said.

On the other hand, Clapp said his conservation group would like to see the maximum slope for roads stay at 18 instead of 20 percent and an added stipulation for road maintenance agreements for small subdivisions.

“With that said, the Watershed Authority supports the bill because it does provide a step forward in environmental protection,” Clapp said.

Commissioners offered little input on the changes, but Commissioner Chairman Jack Debnam questioned why the county planner is the only one with authority to enforce the regulations and suggested giving additional county staff that authority as well.

Prospective buyers of an AM radio station in Sylva could land a $289,000 loan from the Jackson County economic development fund in exchange for creating 11 jobs.

Jackson County commissioners already approved $179,000 of the loan and are poised to approve the remainder next week — if the county can figure out reasonable collateral should the radio station default. The money will primarily be used to purchase the radio license from its current owner, but since a radio station license is not very tangible, the county is hesitant about how it would serve as collateral for the loan.

Jackson County Attorney Jay Coward suggested another option: Jackson County’s name could be included as a co-license holder when filing for the frequency from the Federal Communications Commission.

“If not we would certainly have to rethink it,” Coward said of the loan.

The radio station, currently owned by Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting Co., went dead in August. Its owners cited a lack of revenue. Jackson County resident Roy Burnette, who once worked for WRGC and other local AM radio stations in the region, wants to get the station back on the air.  

Burnette says the new radio station would broadcast at 5,000 watts, reaching from Canton to Topton in Cherokee County, and that he would create 11 jobs.

By comparison, WCQS, the National Public Radio station based in Asheville, employees 12 fulltime and four part-time employees, said executive director Jody Evans on Tuesday.

Commissioners appear partly driven by a desire to bring back the local AM radio station in addition to the jobs themselves. Commissioner Doug Cody said he believes WRGC represents more than simply job creation, from instilling community pride to broadcasting emergency weather information.

“It is a service to the entire county,” Cody said.

Jackson County will not actually become any sort of “partner” in the radio station, even if the county does end up as a co-license holder, Chairman Jack Debnam said.

Maybe, maybe not: The idea has yet to be researched and vetted, Debnam said, adding that it would be Coward’s job to ferret out such answers before commissioners’ actually vote on the final piece of the loan next week.

Wally Bowen, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network in Asheville, described the potential for public-private license arrangement between the county and the station as unusual. Bowen said that he wasn’t immediately aware of legal barriers that would prevent such an occurrence.

“But whether it would be a good investment, one would really have to know more about the market and the assets involved,” Bowen said.

When asked about the likelihood of the AM radio station surviving in today’s advertising landscape, Jackson County commissioners said they were relying on the financial projections provided by the prospective radio owner.

— From staff reports

Running a small hotel in Western North Carolina isn’t the easiest way to make a living, particularly not in these penny-pinching times when prospective customers want a full range of amenities and a rock-bottom room price.

“It is hard for small businesses like this,” said Sneha Amin, who owns and manages the 22-unit Economy Inn in downtown Sylva. “People are not wanting to spend anything, because they don’t have anything.”

A plan is in the works to increase the tax on overnight lodging in Jackson County from 3 percent to 6 percent, as high as state law allows. The prospect has left Amin and other hotel owners in the area — large and small — on edge, worried that such an increase could further drive away the ever-dwindling number of visitors they depend on for survival.

But proponents say the room tax is needed to offset a decline in tourism revenue in Jackson County.  The increase will mean more money to market Jackson County as a destination, which in turn should increase tourism. That’s something supporters say Jackson County sorely needs as overnight stays are still off by 12 percent in Jackson compared to 2006.

Alleghany County, which is increasing its room tax from 3 to 6 percent this year as well, has experienced similar ups and downs, according to Alleghany County Manager Don Adams. Like Jackson, Alleghany hopes the extra money from the tax increase — which means more money at its disposal for tourism marketing — will turn the tide.

Most of the protests in Jackson County have come from the Cashiers and Glenville area, where posh inns, golf course resorts and B&Bs cater to a well-heeled, but increasingly frugal, crowd.

But the fear of hardship to come via any increase is the same in Sylva. A block or so from the Amin’s hotel at the Blue Ridge Inn, far from the Cashiers area, Pete Patel is equally worried. Patel and his wife have owned and operated the 33-unit hotel for eight years.

“The summer was OK, but the winter is going to be tough,” Patel said, adding that he hopes commissioners won’t move forward with plans to hike the tax.

Those fears might be overstated.

Linda Harbuck, longtime executive director of the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce, said she hasn’t noticed any particular decline in Franklin’s hotel stays since that town went from a 3 to 6 percent room tax. While Macon County’s base room tax rate is only 3 percent, the town of Franklin tacked on an additional 3 percent in the town limits.

“They seem to do all right,” Harbuck said.

The story is the same in Henderson County, which a year-and-a-half ago raised its room tax from 4 to 5 percent. Karen Baker, spokesperson for the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce, said that the tourism group has not seen a visible decrease in room stays since the increase.

“There are always two sides whenever there is an increase in a tax, but it hasn’t seemed to hurt occupancy,” Baker said.

Hotel owners in Jackson County beg to differ.

Raise the room tax, and it might drive tourists away and cost the county jobs, Amin and the other hotel owners said. Amin said she’s finding it difficult enough to earn the required $8,000 or more each month needed to pay the hotel’s bills.

Larger hotels are also feeling the dour economy’s tight squeeze.

“We hope that our county commissioners will hear our concerns and ease our fears,” said Megan Orr, director of sales for Best Western Plus River Escape Inn & Suites in Dillsboro. “Prospective customers make informed choices and will see and feel the difference of our higher taxes compared to our neighbors.”

 

How Jackson’s room tax stacks up

Two-thirds of the state has a higher room tax rate than Jackson County. With a tax of only 3 percent, Jackson is one of only 33 counties with a rate that low.

Jackson County leaders are debating whether to take the room tax rate to 6 percent — a rate share by roughly 30 other counties. Here’s some of the other rates in Western North Carolina:

• 3 percent: Jackson, Swain, Macon, Clay, Graham, Mitchell, Yancey

• 4 percent: Haywood, Buncombe, Transylvania, Cherokee

• 5 percent: Henderson, Madison, McDowell

• 6 percent: Town of Franklin, Watauga

It’s not too late for Jackson County leaders to go back to the drawing board on a state bill that consolidates the county’s two separate tourism agencies.

Commissioners have found themselves in the hot seat over a bill that would do away with the Cashiers Travel and Tourism Association and instead merge it with a single countywide entity. Cashiers tourism leaders have decried the plan. They argue that Cashiers needs its own tourism agency — with its own funding stream — to cater to its own unique visitor demographic apart from the county as a whole.

Those who support a merger believe it would be more effective, eliminating the duplication that currently exists and putting the money to wiser use.

The idea to merge the Cashiers tourism agency with the greater Jackson County Travel and Tourism Association was embedded in a bill to raise the room tax on overnight lodging from 3 to 6 percent. Raising the room tax was the chief objective of the bill and was supported by the majority of commissioners. But the origin of other parts of the bill is murky and has been blamed in part on a legislative mix up.

N.C. Rep. Phil Haire, D-Sylva, appeared before the Jackson County commissioners this week to let them know the bill can be changed if they don’t like it. Haire even took the prerogative to bring a new, marked-up version of the bill that would undo the changes made by the previous bill passed this summer.

That seemed to irk at least one commissioner, who asked Haire why he would bother drafting changes to the bill before commissioners officially decided whether they wanted any changes. Commissioner Doug Cody was confused how the bill had been preemptively rewritten.

“Who is the author of this?” Cody asked Haire of the new version.

Haire said he took the initiative to revise the bill based on feedback he’d gotten. Feedback from whom, Cody wondered.

“I didn’t realize we were doing an opinion survey of what changes we want to see,” Cody said.

“If you don’t like it, we will throw it in the waste paper basket,” Haire said of the new version.

It became clear that in Cody’s eye, Haire had jumped the gun with new language before the majority of commissioners reached a consensus on what to do.

“I think this needs some work,” Cody said.

County Manager Chuck Wooten portrayed it as a miscommunication. Wooten said he passed along the concerns raised at the last commissioners meeting over some aspects of the bill. Haire perhaps thought the concerns were universally shared by the commissioners when in fact the only commissioner vocalizing any concerns has been Commissioner Mark Jones, who works in the Cashiers tourism industry and sits on the Cashiers tourism board.

“I believe Mr. Jones is the only one that spoke up as having these concerns,” said Wooten.

Commissioner Charles Elders said commissioners need to decide collectively how, if at all, the bill that passed should be changed.

“We need to get our thoughts and recommendations together of what we would like to see,” Elders said.

Haire said he intended the new language to simply be a “starting point.”

While commissioners said Haire was premature in penning a new bill, Haire’s point was clear. The bill can be changed — and that lands the ball and all its political repercussions squarely back in the commissioners’ court.

Until now, the county had blamed at least part of the controversy on an unintentional hiccup in the legislative process: the bill that ultimately passed in Raleigh was not what the county initially asked for.

Haire didn’t intentionally set out to introduce and get passed a different bill than what county leaders wanted. The county failed to make its request in time last spring. By the time they asked Haire for a bill to increase the room tax from 3 to 6 percent, the deadline for introducing new bills had passed. So Haire looked around for a similar bill to piggyback on. He found one from Alleghany County, which was also looking to raise its room tax, and tagged Jackson County’s name onto it as well.

But in the process, the language didn’t come out quite right, Haire said.

Commissioners had partly disowned themselves from some of the controversial parts of the bill — instead directing blame at a bureaucratic system of lawmaking.

But, Haire now says it is no problem to change it — putting commissioners on the spot to either stand behind the bill in its current form or tell Haire how they want it changed.

“I hope we can get it the way we eventually want it,” Haire told commissioners helpfully.

Haire did explain that the state’s travel and tourism branch wants to bring uniformity to the myriad of tourism bills for each county in the state, and there is pressure to use similar policies and language, he said.

Commissioners plan to take the issue up in January.

 

Concerns with the Jackson County room tax bill

Jackson County commissioners plan to increase the tax on overnight lodging from 3 to 6 percent. Doing so requires permission of the N.C. General Assembly. A special bill to increase the tax was passed in Raleigh earlier this year at the county’s request. The language in the bill calls for other changes to the county’s two tourism agencies as well, including:

• Create a single countywide tourism development authority. Currently, there are two — a Jackson County Travel and Tourism Association and a separate Cashiers Travel and Tourism Association. The Cashiers tourism arm currently gets 75 percent of the room tax generated in the Cashiers area to spend on its own marketing.

• Expand how the tourism tax revenue could be spent. Currently, the money generated from the room tax must go solely to tourism marketing and promotions. The new bill would allow money to be spent on “tourism-related activities,” including capital projects. Putting on festivals, building greenways or assisting the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad with the cost of an engine turntable could all be legal uses of the tourism revenue under the new bill.

Laurie Oxford’s department is getting smaller; some of her former co-worker’s offices sit empty.

Oxford, an assistant Spanish professor at Western Carolina University, spoke at a public forum about university cuts Monday on how multi-level reductions have affected the Arts and Sciences department, which has eliminated several faculty positions and all of its Chinese classes.

“Wherever the money is, it’s not in Arts and Sciences,” Oxford said, half-joking.

Losing a person means more than simply having one fewer coworker.

“They mean considerably fewer class choices (and) in general, a much less effective program,” she said.

Oxford warned the audience of more than 200 students, politicians, professors, administrators and other community members that soon other departments will begin to look like the Arts and Sciences if states and universities continue to make sweeping cuts. WCU administrators must cut about $30 million from next year’s budget.

Larger class sizes, higher tuition, fewer course offerings and laid-off faculty members brought the crowd together.

The forum was part of a statewide, student-led “Cuts Hurt” movement that attempts to lay out what the decline in education funding really means. The approved state budget will cut more than $400 million statewide in higher education spending.

The budget cuts passed by the Republican-led General Assembly were “as extreme as they were unnecessary,” said Gov. Bev Perdue, in a video to attendees of the WCU forum.

Perdue vetoed the budget bill earlier this year, but the General Assembly overrode her veto.

“You’ve seen these cuts, and you understand the damage that has been done to the core of North Carolina,” Perdue said.

Like colleges and universities across the country, WCU has faced its own budget crisis and had to raise tuition and make across-the-board cuts in order to balance its budget. Last week, university administrators presented their recommendations for tuition and fee increases to its Board of Trustees. They had originally planned to raise tuition by 17 percent during a four-year period but changed those numbers after meeting with students.

“We heard you, and we went back to the drawing board,” said Sam Miller, vice chancellor of Student Affairs.

Instead, tuition will increase by 13 percent during a five-year period. When combined with fees, the total cost of attendance will increase by almost 7 percent.

“We think that it is still unfortunately higher than we’d like to do,” Miller said, tempering that sentiment by adding that the increase will help balance the budget and maintain academic quality.

Several students spoke during the forum about how tuition increases affect them.

Emily Evans, a single mother and senior at WCU, said she knew that university administrators were doing their best to minimize the impact of the budget cuts but bemoaned the need to increase already high tuition costs.

“When is the last time your Pell Grant went up?” Evans asked.

Students must take out more loans to cover the cost of education. Student loan debt in the U.S. will surpassed the $1 trillion mark this year.

“This is a big problem, not just for students like me,” Evans said.

Some students are forced to put their education on credit cards, which have high interest rates. Fewer students will ultimately graduate as college becomes tougher to afford.

“Anybody in this room could predict that those students aren’t going to finish,” said N.C. Rep. Ray Rapp, D-Mars Hill.

Lawmakers have turned their back on education and that needs to change, he said.

“We have got to turn this state around. It’s going the wrong direction,” Rapp said.

Throughout the event, speakers urged students to register to vote and to create videos of themselves talking about why education is so important to them and how they have been affected by the cuts. The videos will be posted to the “Cuts Hurt” Facebook page.

“People will listen to you,” said Andy Miller, a WCU student and one of the event organizers. “Your voice matters and important, important people are listening.”

Sylva might hear its local AM radio station WRGC back on the air — but the company involved wants a loan of $289,000 from Jackson County’s economic development fund to make it happen.

Roy Burnette, the CEO of the hopefully formed, embryonic 540 Broadcasting Co., said that he wants the future WRGC to intensely pursue the local part of local radio. But having said that, the geographic designation of “local” for WRGC would change, Burnette said.

Burnette wants to expand the range of WRGC allowing 540 Broadcasting to reach from east of Canton in Haywood County to Topton in Swain County — if he is able to get permission from the Federal Communications Commission for the extra power. The future WRGC would broadcast at 5,000 watts. Asked to explain the expansion of the Sylva-based radio station for the not-so-technical minded potential radio listener, Burnette suggested one mentally compare the light received from a 1,000-watt light bulb to a 5,000-watt light bulb.

“We want to offer in-depth service to Jackson, Macon, Swain and Haywood,” said Burnette on his plans for extensive regional radio reach.

Burnette has been in regional radio for years, including stints in Bryson City and Sylva. Additionally, he worked as a radio instructor for Southwestern Community College.

The Sylva radio station went dead in late August, a victim of dwindling advertising revenue dollars in a hard-knock economy. WRGC was owned by Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting Co. If no one buys it and claims the frequency within a year, the license for that frequency would be lost.

It’s the expansion possibility, which promises a wider net of potential advertisers, that’s attracting notice at the county level.

“The 5,000-watt license is the big interest since the signal area would be substantially greater than current coverage area,” County Manager Chuck Wooten said.

And that, Wooten added, would “provide an opportunity to generate significantly more advertising revenue.”

Regional radio personality and Sylva resident Gary Ayers earlier had expressed interest in buying WRGC. Ayers retreated from the idea after he said local advertising interest seemed tepid.

“I talked to the owners the other day and said if this guy can make it go, then great,” Ayers said Monday. “If not, then let me know and let’s talk again.”

Art Sutton of Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting Co. declined to comment for now on the evolving deal.

Ayers said the most important point to him is that Sylva regains a local radio station.

“We are going to put a huge focus on community-based programming,” Burnette said.

Burnette said he hopes to have WRGC on the air by Dec. 10.

 

What price local radio?

540 Broadcasting Co. submitted a request for a $289,000 loan from Jackson County. Of that, $250,000 would be used to purchase the radio license from current owner Georgia-Carolina Radiocasting Co., and $39,000 would be used to acquire equipment needed to install the 5,000-watt station. 540 Broadcasting would provide an additional $100,000 in working capital. Payments on the county loan would be deferred until May 2012, and then be paid over ten years (40 quarterly payments) at an interest rate of 2 percent. Jimmy Childress (WRGC’s founder) would rent 540 Broadcasting the building, equipment and property where tower is located; collateral for the loan would be the radio license and equipment.

A public hearing on the loan will be held Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. at the county’s boardroom. Commissioners are scheduled to meet that same day at 2:15 p.m. to consider the request.

Source: Jackson County

Four new landfill gas extraction wells are being drilled at the Green Energy Park in Jackson County, with the resulting energy helping to fuel craftspeople at work.

The Green Energy Park taps methane landfill gas to provide fuel for blacksmith forges and foundry, glassblowing studios, and greenhouses. Methane builds up as a byproduct of decomposing trash below ground.

The new wells to tap the landfill gas marks the first time that extensive excavation has been done at the landfill since the original dozen or so in 2005. Quality Drilling of St. Paris, Ohio, is boring the wells 70 feet deep.  

“It’s important because it will allow us to maximize our gas supply here at the GEP,” said Timm Muth, director of Green Energy Park. “We’ll be able to run all of our equipment at the same time and have more artists working at the GEP creating beautiful works of art which helps to attract tourists to Jackson County — a win-win for all of us.”

Jackson County is paying $33,000 for the new wells. Several of the original wells had seen decreasing gas flow, likely indicating that the high density polyethylene well casings had become clogged with sediment, and that new wells needed to be drilled to tap the continually generating gas coming from the landfill.

“If we didn’t drill these wells the landfill gas could migrate into the ground water,” Muth said.

The Jackson County Green Energy Park is an award winning, community-scale landfill gas project located in Dillsboro. www.jcgep.org.

Renovating the old library on Main Street in Sylva for a new police department is on something of a hiatus until a new town board convenes.

The town board will get a new member following this month’s elections. Lynda Sossoman will replace current town Commissioner Ray Lewis. Sossoman said Monday that she fully supports the renovation of the old library for a town police department.

Town leaders must identify where the estimated $700,000 needed for the job will come from, interim Town Manager Mike Morgan said.

“The next thing we would want is to get an architect to do detailed plans — but (commissioners) are not there, yet,” he said.

Until then, the 15-member town police — counting only fulltime employees — will continue to squeeze into the current police department on Allen Street. The officers share just 1,000 square feet. The old library is 6,400 square feet in size.

Jackson County owned the old library, but agreed to a property swap at the town’s request earlier this year. The county gave Sylva the old library building on Main Street, and in exchange the town gave the county the former chamber of commerce building on Grindstaff Cove Road.

As takes place currently, any prisoners detained by police will be transported immediately to the county jail at the administration building instead of being held at the police department.

Sylva merchants have repeatedly requested a greater presence by town police on Main Street. In addition to the prospect of having the department located physically there, a new police officer was recently assigned to foot patrols downtown.

A brouhaha among Jackson County commissioners at a meeting last week prompted a follow-up public apology from Chairman Jack Debnam.

Debnam told The Smoky Mountain News there was a time and place for such disagreements but that the county meeting was neither the proper time nor the suitable place.

Commissioners met Nov. 14 in a special workshop to discuss funding for Smoky Mountain High School and a controversial proposed room tax hike. For the first part of the meeting, commissioners worked together in equanimity.

But when the meeting turned to a discussion of the room tax — and the equally divisive issue of whether the county’s framework for promoting tourism should be revamped — Commissioner Joe Cowan let loose with a heated verbal salvo. Cowan accused Debnam and County Manager Chuck Wooten of leaving him and fellow Democrat Mark Jones out in the cold. Cowan said they are purposely kept in the dark about issues and cut off from information.

That, in turn, sparked an exchange that put Debnam and Commissioner Doug Cody on the defensive.

Debnam and Cody told Cowan he should do more on his end, such as reading up on the county meeting agendas, getting to the meetings early or calling the other commissioners to talk.

“There should not have been an outburst like that in a public meeting,” Debnam said last week. “I’m apologizing for that happening at a board meeting. I would have liked all of that to have been handled in a more diplomatic manner.”

— By Quintin Ellison

The yippy-yappy cries of barking dogs have left Jackson County commissioners in a quandary as they face a rising tide of howls from unhappy residents.

How best to balance dog owners’ rights with residents’ growls for peace?

“I’m hoping that somebody has a magic solution out there,” County Manager Chuck Wooten said. “Because it’s a heck of a thing to figure out how to enforce.”

The county manager said that in addition to hearing multiple complaints from the public during recent county commissioner meetings, he’s received numerous emails and letters asking something be done.

Both Haywood and Swain counties have regulations governing barking dogs; Jackson and Macon do not.

Swain County, facing mounting complaints as Jackson is now, ultimately adopted state regulations that prohibit “habitual” barking dog offenders, Commissioner David Monteith said. Because as Wooten pointed out, it’s difficult to write an ordinance that commissioners will agree to pass and that is actually enforceable by local government.

“We looked at, I think, a dozen different ordinances,” Monteith said, “and couldn’t agree on any of them. We finally just adopted the state law.”

The keyword, Monteith emphasized, is “habitual.” It is an easier strategy than setting absolute limits, such as a certain time of night when no barking is allowed or a specific duration of barking that is just too much.

Haywood County’s ordinance regulates “frequent or long continued barking” that “disturbs the peace, quiet and comfort of residents of the area.”

Swain’s ordinance allows hunting dogs to bay unfettered, something that keeps local hunters happy — and they are always a strong political force to be reckoned with by local governments here in hunting-happy Western North Carolina.

But other residents weary of listening to neighbors’ dogs are pushing Jackson County commissioners hard. The latest complaint came from Margo Gray, who pleaded with commissioners earlier this month to do something. Gray, who owns three dogs of her own, is actively known for her work in the community promoting canine causes as a leader of the Western Carolina Dog Fanciers Association.

But now, Gray is entangled in a civil case with one of her neighbors in Webster, where she’s lived for 16 years, because of incessant barking by this neighbor’s dog.

“With owning a dog comes responsibility,” said Gray, who is co-owner of The Sylva Herald newspaper.

Gray said the barking, which she can hear inside her home day and night, is ruining her life.

David Young, who lives in Cashiers, couldn’t agree more. He expressed optimism this week that county workers truly seem interested in finding a solution, but that upbeat assessment was tempered by the fact he’s been complaining since 2008 on behalf of residents in Red Fox subdivision.

Young said the residents there are at their “last resort,” as is Gray, of “having to take their own legal action” against the dog owner to quiet the barking.

It shouldn’t be left to taxpaying residents to be forced into the court system to settle these matters, Young said, who added the question, “how is not acting on this helping to keep the peace?”

Wooten said he would ask County Planner Gerald Green to review dog-barking related ordinances; specifically, what might fall under the health department’s possible jurisdiction, and to consult with Sheriff Jimmy Ashe. Once Green has completed the research, he will present those findings to the county planning board to draft an ordinance for possible recommendation to commissioners, Wooten said.

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