Some 110 area residents filled the A-B Tech lecture room set aside for a public meeting on the pending state legislation of artificial slope construction in mountainous areas on Thursday, Jan. 10. They gave wide-ranging views to the members of the Environmental Review Commission that is in the process of crafting a new draft of House Bill 1756, a legislative attempt to ensure some degree of safety and buyer disclosure for mountainous properties being developed.
The three-and-a-half-hour meeting, chaired by George Givens, commission counsel, took comments from 21 individuals and then held a brief discussion period with the full audience. Givens explained that after taking the public comments into consideration, an updated bill draft would be promulgated for additional public discussion in an attempt to find consensus on the legislation, which was sponsored by three WNC legislators: Rep. Ray Rapp of Madison County, Rep. Susan Fisher of Buncombe County and Rep. Phil Haire of Jackson County — all of whom were in attendance.
Commentors included a number of Realtors and homebuilding professionals, as well as environmental planners, geologists, members of local planning boards throughout the region and just plain citizens. Two particular themes evolving from the discussion were questions of burdening local governments in smaller communities with such a legislative mandate, and fairly heated discussion of requiring public disclosure of landslide hazards during the process of selling property.
The record of proceedings will remain open until Feb. 1, so written statements may be submitted from other members of the public by that date to be included in the record. The ERC prefers comments by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (use the reference “House Bill 1756—Safe Artificial Slope Construction Act”), but statements may also be mailed to Jessica K. Bennett, Commission Clerk, 334 Legislative Office Building, 300 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC 27603. For additional information, e-mail email@example.com or call (919) 733-2578.
— Nelda Holder, associate editor