The difference between us and them

To the Editor:

I wish to address the controversy surrounding the Macon County Planning Board. Maybe, just maybe you’ll understand our fight against you and your quest to control our property and lives. The word “you” applies to all who want to add more government and regulations. The word “we” applies to all of us who stand in opposition. The residents of Macon County are known for being fiercely independent. We love these mountains. We will give you the shirt off our back, but start messing with our “stuff” (land, family, property rights, etc.) and you’ll have a fight!  

You say, “We must protect OUR mountains.”  

We say these are not “your mountains” other than the 50 percent US Forest Service land in Macon County. The remaining 50 percent is owned by individuals who pay the taxes and whose name is on the deed. If you wish to make them “your (our) mountains,” kindly get out your checkbook.

You strive to further regulate us yet you can’t cite a truly valid reason why.  

We say show us the problem, one that you could really fix. There isn’t one! You can’t protect us from the hazards of everyday life.  

You know full well additional regulations will slow growth through increased construction costs.

We say construction and real estate are all we have left to make a living with.  

You say we have big problems and use the environment to try to impose your will upon us through regulation.

We say there has been substantially more injury, loss of life and property damage resulting from kitchen and heating unit fires in recent years than from anything you are trying to regulate! What’s next? No fireplaces, annual cooking and training classes, licensing, certifications, home inspectors?

You have a sympathetic press to support your efforts and a planning board that for years has been dominated by outspoken activists pushing your agenda. Facts have been distorted. The deck has been stacked. At the August 2010 Planning Board meeting, Chairman Penland even went so far as to prohibit anyone who had spoken out on steep slope at previous meetings from speaking again – even in public session!

We have Commissioner Ron Haven (top vote-getter in 2010) who we elected to fight for us. He is now following through on the promises he made. How refreshing!

Our property values have been slashed, retirements decimated, our children forced to move away looking for work, our taxes increase daily and you want to regulate us even further than the myriad of regulations already on the books, thereby making it even harder for us to make a living?   

Commissioner Haven stated “either fix it or shut the Planning Board down.” Commissioner Corbin also recognized there is a problem. We agree. Thank you Ron Haven for having the guts to take on the fight. We encourage all commissioners (especially Republicans Corbin and Tate) to stand with Haven.  Stand tall … we, the silent majority, the working folks, stand with you!  

Bill Vernon

Macon County

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