On Oct. 15, I attended a meeting of the Watauga County Commissioners to discuss the Application for Text Amendment to The Valle Crucis Historic District Ordinance. In preparation to build a new school in Valle Crucis, county commissioners are seeking a change which would render schools to be exempt of all performance standards of the ordinance in sections 2.4-5.
These standards are in place to protect our community, our environment and to maintain the rural character of the community. They have been in place since 1990, and since then all of the development has been required to meet these standards. As a result, Valle Crucis has developed in manner which has maintained its beauty and character and remains a desirable and special place where many of us choose to live and others visit.
At the meeting I heard many times: “If that’s what it takes to get a new school, then I’m in favor of the amendment.” To be clear, not adopting the amendment will not prevent a school from being built. What it will do is require the county to construct a school which will be more respectful of the environment and community and at the same time provide a better school and learning environment for the children. The county will need to create buffer zones along borders with adjacent properties, the road, the river and stream and some of them will be landscaped and large trees planted. The size of the building, driveways, walkways and pavement will need to comply with standards in place to reduce pollution and runoff and maintain green space.
The county would like to build a gymnasium higher than 30 feet. They could apply for a variance to allow for that and I believe that might be met with much less resistance than a total exemption. Other variances might be granted based on site specific needs.
A total exemption would set a precedent making way for any other use to not comply with the ordinance as it is written. Not adopting the amendment will not prevent a school from being built in the Valle Crucis Historic District. It only insures that a school will be held to many of the same standards as any other use.
Ask your commissioners to vote not to amend the Valle Crucis Historic District Ordinance at the commissioners meeting on Wednesday, Nov 6, at 8:30 a.m.