Joni Mitchell Is Singing in My Head
It's hard to leave off Obama and the rest of Washington for the day. Have you been following these incompetents trying to figure out the budget and debt? The message about cutting spending that we sent in Novem-ber 2010 seems to have gone unheard. Guess we'll have to send it again in 2012.
But let's instead turn our attention homeward this week and focus on the bucolic little slice of heaven we call Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen.
Every day, I see contractors I don't recognize shredding the Sandhills' fabled longleaf pine for another development, apartment complex, wider road or new golf community. Then Joni Mitchell starts singing in my head.
They took all the trees and put 'em in a tree museum,
And then they charged all the people a dollar and a half just to see 'em.
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone?
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
I'm told by those who know a lot more on the subject of development than I do that you can't stop growth. They must be right, because there are more bulldozers and logging trucks around these parts than I've ever seen before.
Seems strange because the country's broke, the state is broke, every other house seems to be for sale, and job growth is stagnant at best. Who are these developers? Where's the money coming from, and where are all the people not living in all our empty houses who are going to move into all the new living space?
The theory must be that if you build it they will come. They certainly came to the place my family moved out of, and we fled because the bucolic suburb of quaint tree-lined streets and family-owned businesses became a sprawling rat race of malls and double-lane gridlock. It's gotten 10 times worse since we left in 1995.
All they talk about back there is how long it takes to get from point A to point B, and no one wants to get in their car because they know they're just headed off to sit at idle in a traffic jam.
When I visit, a brother or sister will pick me up at the airport and off we'll go on an odyssey of lefts, rights and U-turns that run through neighborhoods I never saw when I lived there. I ask, where the hell are we going? They tell me it's a shortcut to avoid traffic. These poor buggers drive countless miles away from their intended destination because they know that 20 miles out of the way is better than not moving at all.
Is this a picture of our future? It sure looks like it, and the kicker is, it doesn't seem to be what the majority of the people in this community have said they want.
They aren't the most scientific polls ever taken, but have you seen the two poll questions asked by The Pilot on its website having to do with the proposed Tyler's Ridge development? They went 5-1 and 4-1 against, respectively. Those are big margins.
And what of the Southern Pines Long-Range Plan? A lot of effort, money and time went into this important document, and residents played a key role in its development. Even a cursory read of it, and you'll gather that there is deep public concern about preserving the historic, rural charm and quality of life that we've come to love about our community, even as it recognizes the pressures of growth.
You will read over and over again words like sustainability, esthetic quality, responsible growth, limiting sprawl, low density, open spaces, protect, enhance, natural environment, compatibility, historic, stewardship, sensitive development.
With respect for our Town Council and the pressures it faces regarding growth, our Long-Range Plan is a wonderful and comprehensive piece of literature that outlines the way our community wants to manage growth in a sustainable and controlled way. I hope attention is being paid to the intent of this document when votes are cast on controversial developments.
Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got till it's gone?
Geoff Cutler is owner of Cutler Tree LLC in Southern Pines and is a regular contributor to The Pilot and PineStraw magazine. Contact him at email@example.com.
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