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Denouncing 'weasel words,' McGrady urges county to dump draft comp plan

Lambasting commissioners for replacing goals on land conversation and green space with a "bunch of weasel words," former Henderson County commissioner Chuck McGrady urged the current board to throw out the draft 2045 comp plan and "show some courage" by committing to principles survey respondents favored.

The public dressing down of the board by McGrady, who is also a former Flat Rock Village Council member, county Planning Board chair and state legislator, came during the public comment time at the top of the county commission's regular meeting Wednesday morning.

"If I were still a county commissioner, I would vote no on this plan and I urge you to vote no," he said.

"First, the current draft fails to establish a vision for 2045 that is consistent with the views of the residents of the county," he said. "You've largely ignored what they asked you to do. Second while the surviving goals are consistent with the desires of your constituents, you pretty much deleted most of the action items by consistently replacing actionable verbs by a bunch of weasel words, rather than saying what you want staff to do following the adoption of the plan."

Environmentalists and land conservationists have grown frustrated with what they see as commissioners' decisions to brush aside the results of countywide surveys and forums.

"The input was very clear in valuing agricultural lands and wanting protection of the county's open space, forests and farmlands," he said. "However, in the months since the draft plan was presented to you, there were edits and revisions made by the Planning Board followed by your line by line deletions and revisions which has gotten you to a point that this so called plan is nothing more than the lowest common denominator of your differing views."

McGrady, who is also a former summer camp owner and donor to land conservation efforts, reminded commissioners of his own record strongly supporting countywide zoning.

He urged commissioners to "start over based on your surveys," hire a new consultant and draft a new plan.

"Show some courage to admit the reality of the process that has produced this plan and recommit yourselves to creation of a new plan that honors what your constituents say they want," he said.

Later, when commissioners renewed their reviewing and editing of the plan's goals — involving roads, traffic, greenways, sidewalks and "multi-modal connectivity" — the outcomes were mostly the same. Influenced by commissioners David Hill and Daniel Andreotta — who argued for less government regulation and opposed new programs they said would be too costly — the board again substituted softer language when the draft committed the county to take action.

Chair Rebeca McCall on several occasions defended conservation goals in the draft plan.

“Even though we do it now we need to remind those that come after us why we do it and encourage them because of this document to continue to do it," she said.

“We’re just adding a bunch of words" that are not needed, Hill responded.

He urged the board to strike goals encouraging more street trees and conservation areas in new subdivisions.

“I see that as more aggravation and cost to the consumer," he said. "There’s very few developments we have that are just stripped.”