Land of the Sky Regional Council hosted the first meeting of a regional task force last month to discuss the environmental, economic and public safety issues related to ridge and steep slope development.
Rep. Ray Rapp, D-Mars Hill, is a leader of the effort. Rapp said he is becoming convinced of the need for some type of state regulations on mountain ridge and steep slope development. Rapp wants legislation to be drafted locally and taken to Raleigh to pass.
More than 30 people attended the first committee meeting, comprised of various stakeholders including developers, governmental officials and environmentalists. Rapp said he and the committee envision a Comprehensive Mountain Ridge Protection Program.
“I asked the group for specific recommendations by March 1 so that they can be included in legislation I plan to submit to the Legislature in the upcoming session,” Rapp said in his weekly report on state affairs. “The bill is intended to address public safety public health, water quality, impact on wildlife, view sheds, and economic development.”
Safety issues will focus on landslides and emergency response, while environmental issues focus on erosion and sedimentation of streams. Impacts of the increasing number of wells on the ground water table could also be addressed.
Rapp said he hopes to get as much input as possible on the proposed language of the bill. The Land of Sky Committee includes representatives from Madison, Haywood, Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania counties.