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