Friday, March 09, 2007


If you've been keeping up, you may recall that the Jackson County Commission held a public hearing in Sylva back at the end of February to consider a moratorium on subdivisions while new steep-slope building regs are considered. Over a thousand people showed up, many of them the burly employees of cement producers who lined the roads with their big rigs and crowded the hearing room with their big shoulders in a show of force to intimidate the commissioners into dropping their moratorium.

The commissioners did not cave. Last night, in fact, they passed the moratorium 4-1.

Standing up to rich-man bullying is never easy. For example, local developer Phil Templeton has declared jihad against the Town of Boone. He did not like Boone's own steep-slope regs and helped stage a big show of force against them at a public hearing (not unlike the Jackson County event in tone and scope), yet Boone Town officials held firm and passed compromise regs.

Templeton then tried to put a 10,000-square-foot "medical facility" in a single-family neighborhood, but the neighborhood, including Mayor Loretta Clawson, who lives there and who testified as an interested citizen, presented convincing evidence to the Board of Adjustment that the development would negatively impact their safety and their property values. The Board of Adjustment turned Templeton down, unanimously, we believe.

The threat to the neighborhood of an out-sized medical facility led to a draft rewriting of the town's ordinances to prohibit such developments in single-family districts. Last night a public hearing was held on that rewritten ordinance. Phil Templeton did not show up to testify against it, but he had done his durnedest to scare the town off-scent.

Mere days prior to the public hearing, he accused the Mayor of unethical behavior and induced the local press to publish his allegations. He was also given a radio platform by Jim Hastings, the local owner of every Hardee's between here and eternity. Hastings, on "The Right Side" on WATA, has been blasting Boone generally and the Mayor specifically as "socialist" and as a threat to free rich men everywhere. (If you're still dropping coin on Hardee's, shame on you.)

Mr. Templeton's main complaint, best we can tell, is that he HASN'T been able to buy the world and specifically Mayor Clawson's small homestead, and he's not going to put up with it any more.

These guys have been flailing wildly on the radio. They've impugned the intelligence, not to mention the motives, of Mayor Clawson and all the Town Council, save Dempsey Wilcox (about whom they feel understandably warm & fuzzy). Mr. Hastings, particularly, has been positively Coulter-esque. Which, evidently, makes him well qualified to chair the local Republican County Convention this Saturday. He knows a lot about raw meat.

Pray God the Age of Bullies is passing in small-town politics.

Mr. Hastings, who was present at the hearing last night, actually got up and stormed out of the room while a speaker was warning the Council against "bad men with bad motives." We can't wait to read his remarks to the Republican Convention this weekend!

After the hearing, Mr. Hastings' co-host on "The Ride Side" approached Mayor Clawson and said he'd "love" to have her on the show. Suddenly "balance" appears to be a concern, at least to Mr. Hastings' partner. Mayor Clawson was heard to respond that she was not interested in being on their show but that she and her lawyer are interested in getting audio tapes of the last three months' worth of "The Right Side."

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