Carolina Journal News Reports
BREVARD — A reclassification of Boylston Creek watershed that would impose severe land-use limitations on residents living along 5,800 acres of the waterway will never take place if state Rep. David Guice, R-Transylvania, has anything to say about it.
He and former Sen. John Snow, D- Cherokee, filed a bill in the last session to stop the reclassification. He said he plans to do so again early in this legislative session. “We will be filing a bill to set aside the rule this session,” Guice told CJ.
The reclassification would change the creek from a "Class C" stream to the more stringent "Trout Class C" stream. The reclassification would affect 200 residents living along 5,800 acres along the waterway with severe restrictions and limitations on the use of land bordering the streams and tributaries.
Under the reclassification, the residents would have to provide an undisturbed buffer zone of 25 feet along any portion of a stream, creek, or significant area of run-off leading into the French Broad River.
Backers say the new rules would save the trout, but opponents counter that the water already is in pristine condition and the trout are safe and thriving without the new regulations.
A story on the reclassification, which ran in the December 2010 issue of Carolina Journal, caught the attention of a local radio talk show on WWNC in Asheville. Former state Sen. R.L. Clark, R-Buncombe, who served in the General Assembly from 1995-98, was listening and called the station. He was the only legislator to vote against the law that allows the state to reclassify streams. “In my opinion, it is unconstitutional government overreach,” he said.
As a result of learning of the reclassification effort, Clark recently met with residents and community leaders concerned about the potential change. “I have been involved in buffer zone issues and I was conveying my knowledge on the subject,” he said. “It’s a property rights issue. It’s unconstitutional to take private property without compensation.”
Clark said the environmental agenda has gone too far in the state, and the rules that restrict residents do not comply with the constitution. He said land issues should not go before the Environmental Review Commission because it is appointed and not responsible to voters.
Clark said he has had his own property seized without compensation for highway road construction. He said his land and business were rendered unusable, but he still had to pay a mortgage for eight years after the land was taken.
Longtime resident Don Surrette has been active in the fight to stop the new restrictions and said he couldn’t be happier at the turn of events. He said environmentalists are responsible for pushing what he sees as ludicrous rules and regulations.
“These people really want to do this,” he said. “It’s scary.”
Clark said the new GOP-led state legislature has offered some hope to land owners.
“I think people in North Carolina have got to the point where they’ve had enough, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “Some irregularities in the law will be taken off during the opening session.”
Karen Welsh is a contributor to Carolina Journal.