Climbing the slopes again

The May 30 edition of Mountain Xpress carried a letter from Mr. Mike Butrum [“Get a Grip on Slippery Slope Issue”] asking why we needed three steep-slope laws: one at the state level; one enacted by Buncombe County; and another enacted by Asheville City Council. That was about the only point on which I agreed with Mr. Butrum, who is the government affairs director for the Asheville Board of Realtors and the Asheville Homebuilders Association.

Mr. Butrum should be a happy man. We have no steep-slope laws in place for the state, thanks to lobbyists like Mr. Butrum. Last week, the N.C. legislature sent its steep-slope bill to a committee for study. (Maybe we won’t have to use the Hubble telescope to study black holes—we may have found one in Raleigh.) The city of Asheville has not yet acted on the issue, so only Buncombe County has such an ordinance—recently enacted.

Mr. Butrum vows that the realtors and homebuilders “embraced” steep-slope protection. If so, why didn’t those organizations mobilize their great resources and take the initiative in drafting steep-slope ordinances, instead of waiting for the public to get a bellyful of demolished buildings, mountains destroyed and lives lost? Mr. Butrum’s declaration is disingenuous at best. Meanwhile, steep-slope development continues.

— Michael N. Lewis

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