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fr cullowheeThey weren’t thrilled about it, but members of the Cullowhee community did show an appetite for possible development standards during a recent second public input session focusing on the proposed regulations.

“This is not a pretty plan, there are parts of it I find very disturbing,” said Jim Lewis, during the Oct. 23 meeting. “But if not this, what? Just let us go?”

cover2Up to now, the mood at many of the Cullowhee planning meetings and public forums was upbeat and positive — full of rah-rah and optimism. 

Occasionally a naysayer would need to be hushed — Cullowhee property owner Mike Clark has been a consistent and vocal critic — but in general the consensus seemed to be that Cullowhee needs development standards.

Cullowhee is the fastest growing area of Jackson County. The growth owes much to Western Carolina University and is evidenced in recent years by a surge in private student housing complexes and smattering of bars.

Without regulations in place, Cullowhee’s growth has taken place in a Wild West, cowboy environment. For more than a year, the Cullowhee Community Planning Advisory Committee has contemplated how to guide such growth.

op jamisonTo the Editor:

I read the news that Webster had obtained a planning grant with mixed emotions. Local planning is a good thing. Having served a number of terms on the Jackson County Planning Board I’ve developed a strong appreciation of the value of an ongoing planning process.

On the other hand, local planning initiatives come with some caveats. Small local jurisdictions often suffer from an echo chamber effect born of insularity. In many cases a small cadre of people are the ones most interested in the administration of a small town and project their attitudes and desires on the greater population. Webster, in particular, has suffered from this sort of defect.

How can Webster be improved? What would make it more walkable? What would encourage community socialization? 

Town leaders aim to find out. Having secured a $5,000 Southwestern Commission Toolbox Implementation Fund grant — and matching it with another $5,000 — they are pursuing a planning study in an effort to map out some possible changes to consider.

Jackson County may have another community planning project on the horizon. Glenville residents have approached the county about possibly embarking on such a journey.

“That’s very initial-stages,” said Jackson County Planning Director Gerald Green, explaining that the county is currently discussing the concept with a handful of Glenville residents. “Right now, there’s probably 10 or 12 exploring it.”

A group of vacant, ramshackle buildings at an anchor intersection on South Main Street in Waynesville has been purchased, signaling continued revitalization could be in store for the rag-tag corridor.

fr cullowheeDon Kostelec stood in front of a flip pad in the cafeteria of Cullowhee Valley Elementary School. He asked for it all. Hold nothing back.

fr visionquestAfter a full day of brainstorming, the Waynesville Board of Aldermen had thrown a lot of meat onto the table. Ideas, concerns and potential opportunities were written down on giant pieces of paper and tacked up on the walls, canvassing a good portion of the meeting room overlooking Lake Junaluska. 

A proposal to loosen steep slope development rules in Jackson County is headed back to the drawing board.

A large and vocal crowd opposing the rollback of mountainside protections in Jackson County packed a public hearing earlier this month. Given the outcry, the Jackson County Planning Board decided to reconsider some of its initial recommendations.

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