Thursday, September 27, 2007

Franklin, N.C., Limiting Big-Box Stores

The rest of western North Carolina is following Boone's lead. The point is, Boone IS leading.

Franklin, the county seat of Macon County, which according to the U.S. Census had one of the fastest growth rates of any county in North Carolina, is about to impose restrictions on any proposed "big-box retailer" that wants to build anything in excess of 30,000 square feet:
These large-scale commercial developments must come before the town board for a special use permit, allowing town leaders the opportunity to impose whatever guidelines they feel are necessary to make the development compatible with the community, such as landscaped parking lots and an attractive building design.

Oh dear.

And you gotta love this paragraph:
"We have what every developer is foaming at the mouth to get a hold of," Franklin Alderman Bob Scott said. "It is not a one way street of what the developers can get out of Franklin. What we need to get out of them is what we will look like 20 or 30 years down the road. If a town board does not say, 'This is the way we want you to go,' they are going to do whatever they darn well please.' "

Alderman Bob Scott can expect to be targeted for defeat in the next election. Meanwhile, Franklin is trying to protect itself.

One last note on courage, as sometimes practiced by elected town officials: "Most developers try to bully small towns by threatening not to come unless the regulations are relaxed. It is usually a bluff, but requires town leaders to see through the process."

We can be proud of the courage Boone town officials have shown of late, despite bullying and notorious smears of their character, their vision, even their belief in education.

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