Smart Growth

Because I want protections for the environment and because I want jobs for Burke County residents, I support Conditional Zoning.

Because I support outdoor recreation and because I support a Burke County in which our future generations will want to continue to live, I support Conditional Zoning.

I have served on the Burke County Planning Board for almost three years. The most important thing I have learned about the zoning process is change applications are often the Devil you know, the Devil you don’t situations. Whether or not the vote for Conditional Zoning came to be because of the Great Meadows property or not, the fact remains, Conditional Zoning gives Burke County additional power over this site (and others across the county).

Parcels with the Blue X Circle will not be rezoned.

Here is a devil example. Of the Great Meadows property, look at #11 which is 550 acres and is zoned Industrial for about 440 acres and General Business for about 110. If you look at the Burke County Ordinances, here are some things that can go there with zero increased buffers, water protections or any additional say from the county:

The site could become an airport, a garbage disposal site, a scrapyard or any industry — with no extra protections.

I am grateful for this Conservation Site Plan created by Foothills Conservancy, Catawba Riverkeeper and Lake James Environmental Association. It serves as a guide for how to implement requirements allowed with Conditional Zoning – expanding buffers along the roadway to screen uses from view, preserving more of the site from clearing, including stream buffers, a larger forest buffer, and maybe more hiking trails! The following map shows what can be arranged with Conditional Zoning. Without which Conditional Zoning minimum setback rules would be followed – that scrapyard only needs a 10 foot buffer or think about the existing chip mill plant.

A final concern of Conditional Zoning is that it can be “less restrictive.” An example may be due to wetlands on their property, someone would like to place a commercial building closer to the property line than allowed to protect those wetlands, and they need to rezone from General Business to Industrial. The Planning Board and the Board of Commissioners still have control over that request for rezoning and the Conditional Zoning.

I want my cake and eat it, too. I want Burke County to always be considered Nature’s Playground and I want Burke County to have residents who thrive with good paying jobs. I think with the smart growth allowed through Conditional Zoning we can all get most of what we want – which in the end is a Better Burke for all.

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