Planning regs in Macon keep center stageWritten by Quintin Ellison
Macon County commissioners decided last week that they needed more time to study whether to implement construction guidelines recommended by the county’s planning board.
During a workshop on the issue, commissioners heard a stern warning from a licensed engineer and PhD that if they planned on weakening the regulations beyond their current form, then they pretty much shouldn’t bother to implement them at all.
“These standards right here are about as close to nothing as you can get,” Dan Marks of Asheville told commissioners. “If you water it down, you’re not going to have anything. … If you are going to pass this thing, please don’t take it down another notch — and I think you need to go back up a notch.”
The planning board was originally tasked two years ago with developing rules for steep-slope development but got bogged down and instead settled on so-called “construction guidelines” as a means of salvaging a few of the more salient building rules. The guidelines include stipulations that limit how high and steep cut-and-fill slopes can be and require compaction of fill dirt.
Planning Board Chairman Lewis Penland told commissioners they have a “responsibility to protect property owners from substandard development.”
“People who might otherwise invest in Macon County don’t feel like they’re investing in land that’s secure, and they don’t feel like they have all the best available information to make wise decisions,” Penland said.
Penland said residents and move-ins to Macon County need some assurances there are “basic public safeguards” on the books.
Commissioners indicated they would hold another meeting to again review the planning board’s construction guidelines.