Swannanoa incorporation will be a disaster for its rural character

I've listened to arguments from both sides of the issues in the debate over incorporation in Swannanoa. I've done a lot of research on my own. The conclusion: Incorporation is disastrous for the rural character. We will lose the very reason why people visit or move to this area.

1. Nearly 60 percent of the proposed area is unoccupied — and thus unrepresented. Many owners cannot vote!

2. No one wants to annex us, and state laws prohibit it due to lack of population density and development.

3. Our current county taxes provide great police and fire protection, and the state maintains our roads. We will have fewer policemen and, lately, it has been admitted that roads will not be maintained to state standards.  Why would we want to pay more tax for poorer services?

4. Paying for a town attorney, clerk, manager and mayor is duplication of services provided by the county. The Department of Community Services did a study on comparable towns and reported that the budgeted sum for Swannanoa will be inadequate.

5. We are told there is money, available upon incorporation, that will make up for budget deficits. This money is already collected and administered in our behalf by the county. These revenues are severely depressed by the hard times we are enduring. For Swannanoa to collect these funds, the town must join the League of Municipalities. This puts urban regulations on more than 60 percent rural and undeveloped land.

6. Historically, development follows incorporation. When city regulation and taxes become too burdensome, farms and forests fall prey to developers who are able and willing to pay for higher-priced land.

7. Forestry management plans are not compatible with urban regulation and will be hard-pressed to meet the terms of agreements with the state. The plans will fail, leaving the door open for developers, the very thing people in the valley want to slow down.

8. Incorporation erases county farm districts. None of the more than 70 farms in our area will be exempt from town regulations. At a senate subcommittee hearing, one farmer gave this testimony: "I believe one of the greatest threats to the survival of the small farm is regulations that increase costs and limit use of any part of the farm." In WNC alone, 679 farms were lost to development between 2002 and 2007.

9. Control of our own government; there's a novel idea! The collective voices representing more that 60 percent of the land have been ignored by those few outsiders driving the incorporation effort. Why would someone listen better after placing themselves in self-appointed office, when they won't listen now?

— Nancy Duggan
Swannanoa

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18 thoughts on “Swannanoa incorporation will be a disaster for its rural character

  1. sweetrosieog

    Interesting that no comments were logged on this article. I’ve been following this for quite some time and notice that whenever actual factual stuff gets on the table’ so to speak, the people proposing incorporation disappear or try to cloud the real issues of money, control and leadership. In this instance,they’ve ducked out again. Thanks for a good clear look at the picture Ms.Duggan

  2. Unit

    Ahhh, incorporation in the Woodfin mold:

    “We need to incorporate to keep big bad Asheville from forcibly annexing us. No, they’re not actually proposing it yet, but we’re afraid dadgummit! OK, now we’ve incorporated, let’s forcibly annex all the land around us we can!”

    Entirely predictable and absolutely ridiculous.

  3. sweetrosieog

    Again, lots of really good fodder for discussion in this article and no one from the people pushing incorporation speaks up. Could it be they have no “facts” with which to combat Ms. Duggan’s well-researched presentation?

  4. frankwhitehorse

    Warren Wilson College teaches responsible forestry and sustainable small farming. It is inconceivable that they chose to look the other way while the incorporation thing happens. Oh yes, they chose to exempt themselves from this foolishness- they are now out of the boundaries. Still, one wonders where those hopeful young farmers and foresters will ply their newly-won trades when all the farmland and open forest has fallen prey to urban rule!

  5. noiewooden

    There is a feature article in this same edition that has many responses following it. Someone named Talley has spoken up several times bemoaning the critical nature of comments toward David Alexander and saying we should just stick to debating the issues. It is fascinating that he isn’t reading and commenting on this editorial- it is full of facts that are backed up by solid research and it isn’t critical of any one individual. I began following this incorporation issue fairly late in the game, but one thing that is very clear is that whenever real facts and issues get presented, the pro-incorporation group clams up and refuses to debate or comment. From my own research I can see why-they have no answers to real logic and facts- only mud to sling at various ones who deliver those facts. Speak to the issues if you can, Mr. Talley, and leave those who live here to decide if we want the kinds of leadership we are confronted with in the form of the inc. tack force.

  6. buzzscreendoer

    You can look at the self-governance part of the Pro-inc. promises and see right away why people are so up at arms. David Alexander is at the head of the pack to “lead” our town if incorporated. I used to think Mike Tolley wasn’t so bad until I saw a packet of info sent out from his pharmacy today and signed by Mr. Tolley. It is full of blatant lies. And if they aren’t lies than we don’t need someone so woefully ignorant of the way tax revenues are handled running our town. He is also named to represent us if we incorporate. Look at my comments in the “Battle for Swannoa” feature also in this issue- it explains only one of the ridiculous positions Mike takes. Yuk- I’m tired of all this.

  7. Great info Nancy.

    Thanks for sticking to the issues and presenting them in such a concise and well thought out manner.

    It’s letters like yours that restore confidence in the ability of rational people to differ on issues without resorting to personal attacks.

    ….and it’s letter like yours that should receive the credit if Swannanoa voters reject the incorporation proposal.

    But…if incorporation passes, then I think you should run for council next March. I think you’d do a great job of representing Swannanoa.

  8. countryNOTstupid

    Nancy, there is not room to answer your 9 fallacies in one blurb. Your fallacy #1 must arise from your frustration that you do not have one vote for each of your numerous rental properties in Swannnanoa plus one vote for each of the valuable acres you are holding for development at the top of Bee Tree. In the USA, people are represented NOT land. This way, the poor renter in a single-wide trailer has one vote just like a real estate entrepreneur like you sitting on many acres has one vote. In the USA, people vote where they reside, not wherever they have big land holdings. Do you think the US form of representative govenment is wrong?

  9. countryNOTstupid

    Addressing Fallacy #7. There is a property under a forestry management plan within the city limits of Raleigh. They harvested timber in accordance with their plan. North Carolina law protects a citizen’s right to develop and carry out a present use forestry plan. No municipal or county government can prevent a person with a present use forestry plan from cutting trees in accordance with their plan. A forester who writes many of these plans, some of them in Swannanoa, explained this. This information was confirmed by the Buncombe County Tax Office. Anyone can call them and find this out.

  10. frankwhitehorse

    To be perfectly clear, I am Nancy Duggan. In response to Not Stupid, I notice that you frequently change your pen name and resume your malicious attacks from another anonymous field. This is not the first time you have aimed them at me. It’s a shame you don’t feel comfortable speaking directly with your own name out front, but I’d be embarrassed, too, if I were you. This debate is over several areas of fact in which we seem to have a great difference of opinion. The fact that I own property is a matter of public record-anyone can look it up in the tax records. My plans for that property, on the other hand, are not a matter for public discussion; more importantly they are not a matter for you to decide or announce. Interestingly,though,the Bee Tree property you reference is in the very type of state forestry management plan you claim to know so much about. Clearly, it is now protected, and just as clearly, I intend to keep it protected from outsiders, incorporation,development of any kind and snipers, like you. Mark Magallos, head of the Div. of State Forestry Plans in Raleigh was instrumental in formation of my plan and of great help to me in researching consequences of incorporation to my conservation efforts.I rather think I’ll stick with his opinion. Once again, shame on you for your underhanded, contemptuous personal attacks.

  11. residentswan

    First, I don’t understand your comment in #1 why many owners cannot vote??? It should only be residents who can vote. And as for you saying Asheville doesn’t want to annex us, just take a look at the Vision – Smart Growth Initiative that they have put up on their website in addition to the resolution 08-43 they already voted on to annex the southwest part of us. It is not on Asheville’s site, but a lawyer friend of mine found. And for anyone out there that believes Asheville or Black Mountain when they say they dont’ want to annex us, you better think again and read up on the 10 myths of annexation here: http://www.johnlocke.org/spotlights/display_story.html?id=204. Why would they tell us they want to if it would not be in their best interest to do so. And lastly, if you think that having police officers come from further away to respond to calls rather than closer, then you really are not concerned about someone who doesn’t have the time to wait. All in all, your comments are too general and somewhat untrue. That is my take.

  12. residentswan

    First, I don’t understand your comment in #1 why many owners cannot vote??? It should only be residents who can vote. And as for you saying Asheville doesn’t want to annex us, just take a look at the Vision – Smart Growth Initiative that they have put up on their website in addition to the resolution 08-43 they already voted on to annex the southwest part of us. It is not on Asheville’s site, but a lawyer friend of mine found. And for anyone out there that believes Asheville or Black Mountain when they say they dont’ want to annex us, you better think again and read up on the 10 myths of annexation here: http://www.johnlocke.org/spotlights/display_story.html?id=204. Why would they tell us they want to if it would not be in their best interest to do so. And lastly, if you think that having police officers come from further away to respond to calls rather than closer, then you really are not concerned about someone who doesn’t have the time to wait. All in all, your comments are too general and somewhat untrue. That is my take.

  13. residentswan

    First, I don’t understand your comment in #1 why many owners cannot vote??? It should only be residents who can vote. And as for you saying Asheville doesn’t want to annex us, just take a look at the Vision – Smart Growth Initiative that they have put up on their website in addition to the resolution 08-43 they already voted on to annex the southwest part of us. It is not on Asheville’s site, but a lawyer friend of mine found. And for anyone out there that believes Asheville or Black Mountain when they say they dont’ want to annex us, you better think again and read up on the 10 myths of annexation here: http://www.johnlocke.org/spotlights/display_story.html?id=204. Why would they tell us they want to if it would not be in their best interest to do so. And lastly, if you think that having police officers come from further away to respond to calls rather than closer, then you really are not concerned about someone who doesn’t have the time to wait. All in all, your comments are too general and somewhat untrue. That is my take.

  14. frankwhitehorse

    I am baffled, Res. Swann. Do you mean to tell me you believe that people who pay property taxes should not be allowed a voice in the collection of those taxes and how that money is dispensed? I am stunned! Also Mayor Bellamy is on record stating annexation is not in the cards in the next twenty years. Looking at the doctored map presented by the pro-folks, or claiming an in with a mysterious “lawyer friend” is simply proof for no one. Further, the John LOcke Society does not set or interpret law in our state- on annexation, incorporation, or any other thing. Last, four cops in two cars, traded for two cops in one can, (at an additional $400,000.00 per year is a stinking trade, any way you look at it.

  15. Lola

    Hard to believe “Stupid” would try to personally attack someone rather than try to debate facts. As far as I’m concerned, Nancy is A-OK and “Stupid is, well-stupid. How about discuss tax bases, control, intention, leadership,annexation (well maybe not that-that argument was put to bed by Dave Alexander, himself see http://www.swannanoatruth.com), revenue sharing, League of municipalities,farms, forestry plans and the like. Nothing valid to say there? OH!

  16. invisiblefriend

    residentswan, sounds like you dont trust the govt of asheville when they say something. Well, I donttrust the wannabe govt of Swannanoa when they say something. Whats the difference? Does your non trusting carry more weight than my non trusting? And you, notstupid, quit personally bashing someone who wrote a letter. I know her personally and she has given more in anonymous contributions to charites, and donated tons of time to non profit causes than you would ever know. I know personally about 3 people who wouldnt be alive if it wasnt for her. She came from nothing, and is the most giving person I have ever known. You sound desperate because you know tomorrow we will still be Swannanoa, NC., not Swannanoa, INC.

  17. brebro

    Why have we not heard from this rural character that incorporation would be a disaster for? I’m sure this colorful person could come inside long enough to answer a few questions.

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