There’s a saying that perception is reality. And fair or not, it often holds true.
For years, the town of Woodfin has been perceived to be operating in secrecy, shutting out the public, changing ordinances to favor developers over taxpayers. In the past year, I’ve heard many locals suggest there should be an investigation to see if any elected officials have conflicts of interest or have reaped personal gain. When you ignore your constituents, all sorts of rumors (true or false) tend to swirl about.
I am one of a handful of concerned citizens who has been asking for answers about the proposed Bluffs development for nearly a year.
After all this time, we have not been given any assurances from Woodfin officials or staff that they will take any steps to safeguard our community, the French Broad River, Richmond Hill Park, Silver-Line Park or the quality of life of people who have invested decades and significant amounts of money to carve out lives and homes.
On Nov. 2, the public made their voices heard loud and clear at the polls. Commissioners-elect Eric Edgerton, Jim McAllister and Hazel Thornton defeated three Woodfin incumbents in landslide victories that came about largely due to all that I’ve mentioned above.
The town of Woodfin has obfuscated when it should have been more honest and clear. It should have made a concerted effort to protect the environment and the people; it should have responded to our questions and concerns rather than saying our well-founded questions backed up by facts were merely conjecture.
I have repeatedly asked that two very reasonable sentences be added to Woodfin’s zoning ordinances, and I wish to state them publicly here:
• Require environmental studies for all projects over a certain size that border — or that will have significant potential runoff — into the French Broad River or its tributaries.
• Require a traffic study for all large projects regardless of what the developer estimates the traffic to be.
As any reasonable, forward-thinking human can see, my requests have nothing to do with NIMBYism or any of the derogatory statements often bandied about when locals oppose development. My desire to protect the river and my fellow citizens stems simply from caring and common sense.
— Robert McGee