Leave steep slopes to the locals

The proposed state steep-slope law, which has been [on] the minds of state legislators in recent years, just doesn’t make sense.

Common sense [argues] that cities and counties know how to better regulate development than the state. Local officials see, on a daily basis, the effects growth has on their communities. As a result of their observations and input from the public, these officials craft unique and personalized regulations to protect the environment, while also allowing for the development required for the creation of jobs.

North Carolina law already contains many restrictions applicable to property development in Western North Carolina, as do many local regulations.

If local governments want to adopt certain regulations governing development, the state should assist in any way possible, but it should not impose overly broad restrictions. How many steep slopes are there east of Hickory? Would statewide legislation restricting steep-slope development really be effective in all the state’s diverse landscapes, from Murphy to Manteo?

Realtors support enforcement of acts such as the Sedimentation Pollution Control Act and are constantly looking and advocating for legislation that will be effective in both protecting the environment and encouraging smart growth.

The disclosures that are being proposed are unworkable, as mapping is incomplete and is not detailed enough for the purpose. The current, [legally mandated] disclosure statement is intended as a means for the seller to provide information about the property that only the seller will know as a result of ownership. It is not intended to require sellers to research information about the property and provide information that the buyer could just as easily have discovered.

Realtors already have a demanded obligation to disclose any material facts that are important or relevant to the property or that relate directly to the property. As with other transactions, agents and sellers are under strict prohibitions from making any willful or negligent misrepresentations about the property.

Many mountain legislators opposed the state steep-slope legislation over the past two years because the bill would have many negative effects on homeowners and the requirements would drastically raise building costs. These costs would then be passed on to homebuyers, who are already struggling in such a poor economy. It just doesn’t make sense.

— Mike Butrum

Editor’s note: Mike Butrum is the governmental affairs director for the Asheville Board of REALTORS, but submitted this letter in his personal capacity as a citizen.

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2 thoughts on “Leave steep slopes to the locals

  1. kentuckyfarmgirl

    Actually it makes perfect sense to have the state regulate this important issue. We can barely get desparately needed zoning passed in Buncombe County due to the lack of awareness on this issue, and the lobbying by development interests.

  2. kjohn

    I don’t think local government has the resources to fully investigate the geological forces behind building on steep slopes and the resulting consequences. This isn’t an issue of keeping our mountains pretty but one of is it SAFE and as a realtor I don’t see how you have that level of expertise either.

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