Be There When Lightning Strikes

Politics

Set your text size: A A A

VOTER GUIDE: Mills River Town Council Q&A

Two incumbents and three challengers are vying for two seats on the Mills River Town Council. Board members Wayne Carland and Roger Snyder have been on the town’s governing board since its founding in 2003.

Also running are challengers Randy Austin and John E. Case and Mark V. Case, who are brothers. Austin, 52, has been a barber for 32 years. Carland is owner of Carland Farms and Valley Ag Farm & Garden. John Case operates a grading company. Mark Case, 55, works for the U.S. Postal Service at its downtown Asheville office. Snyder, 60, is a part-time farmer who is retired from a corporate job.

Why are you running for election to the Mills River Town Council?
AUSTIN: If elected, my first priority would be to establish a clear plan for commercial development along our main corridors. It is only a matter of time before the development in the airport area creeps our way, and we must proactively prepare with clear guidelines for what that development can be, and what it can look like. Our ordinances should reflect what we want our town to look like in 15-20 years. Additionally, I will focus on seeking ways to assist our farmers so their land can remain in production, not only for this generation, but for the next as well. Finally, our Town Park is on of our greatest assets, and I would like to continue to develop services offered there and to improve river access.
CARLAND: I am seeking reelection to the Town of Mills River council because I would like to continue to serve the residents of Mills River. The town has several ongoing projects and I would like to see them through to completion. We are moving forward with improvements to the park and addressing highway issues in the town. The privilege to serve the folks of Mills River on town council will allow me to represent their interests and ensure sustained growth and prosperity of the town while preserving its rural character.
MARK CASE: To give citizens a choice in how our town is developing. To help enable the citizens who grew up in Mills River, be able to afford to stay and live here.
JOHN CASE: (Case sent five points of his campaign platform and answered no other questions). 1. 30-year or better plan for residential and industrial settings. 2. Infrastructure of roads and highways. 3. Four- or five-lane highways on 191 to Hendersonville and Buck shoals. 4. A better plan to segregate industrial and residential instead of first come first serve. 5. We need to look into programs that reduce costs of farmers to keep farms and (help) their children to carry on in agriculture.
SNYDER: To continue to represent the Mills River residents, keeping the tax rate as low as possible and to provide excellent customer service

The Mills River Town Council is considering funding a baseball field at the Town Park at a cost of $500,000 or more. Are you for or against the project?
SNYDER: I’m all for and support the baseball field project.  Its current price tag is around $600,000, which is roughly .005 cents on our .008 tax rate.  This project has ballooned from a practice field to an all out certified baseball field. I’m looking at $300,000 to $400,000 and I think that this is a more reasonable figure.
MARK CASE: If that is what the community wants right now? There are a lot of pressing issues that need to be addressed to the community before a final decision on a ball field at half a million dollars! People want accountability for the tax money they are paying now! We pay Henderson County Taxes and Mills River Taxes.
CARLAND: I support the proposed baseball and softball field project if it can be completed within the $500,000 budget.
AUSTIN: I cannot support the construction of a ballfield with this price tag. While I have not been in on all the discussions and don’t know all the details, I feel that a ball field with dugouts, full fencing, etc. is not needed for families having picnics and ballgames. I don’t think such a large expenditure for one ball field is the best use for town money. 

The Town Council has committed to engineering for the Mills River Valley greenway from N.C. 191-280 (the town center) to the French Broad River. Do you favor investing in the trail (the town would pay 20% of the cost)? What is your position on greenways?
CARLAND: While I supported the initial twenty percent engineering fees for the Mills River Valley Trail, I could not fully support greenway proposals without support from the private property owners being affected or if the majority of the voting residents of Mills River oppose the proposed project.
MARK CASE: Greenways are a good investment, if properly implemented. We have to look at all avenues for the current residents of Mills River. We are busting at our seams.
SNYDER: I’m committed to seeking outside funding for the Mills River Valley Trail so the Mills River residents will not have any money in the project. Several non-profits have expressed an interested to raising money to meet the Town’s portion. I support greenways where they make the most sense and are affordable.
AUSTIN: In the last 20 years I have ridden a bike as much as anyone in Mills River. I can’t see how a bike or walking path on the side of NC 280 can be enjoyable. This is a road with approximately 15 to 20 thousand cars per day, and how about the safety issues of intersections crossings, South and North Mills River roads, old 191, and crossing the French Broad River. Committing to spend 20% on something that we don’t even know how much will cost I don’t feel would be in the best interest of the majority of the citizens of Mills River. 

The Mills River Planning Board, Mills River Fire & Rescue chief, manufacturers and economic development recruiters have expressed the need for more affordable (workforce) housing in Mills River. What if anything could the Town Council to encourage builders to offer affordable housing, such as higher density zoning or other ideas you might have?
MARK CASE: Mills River has to invest in land as it becomes available. The land prices are the leading cost in Mills River. Our farm lands are being sold off to developers and companies which will only result in prices that regular folk cannot afford on the current wage basis. Mills River could look at subsidizing land prices that result in residents being able to afford a place to build their homes. Mills River could also look at helping the remaining local farm owners before they are forced to sale. Zoning must be taken seriously in our township before it is too late! Or is it already too late?
SNYDER: Just recently, we approved a special use permit that would allow a special form of affordable housing along the Hwy 280 corridor. What is affordable housing? 
AUSTIN: Every town and community must determine what makes them “feel like home.” At incorporation, for Mills River that meant establishing minimum lot sizes for homes, while also providing for slightly higher density construction through special use permits on a case-by-case basis. This has served the town well. We cannot sacrifice the rural character of Mills River to the lure of tax dollars promised by higher density development. 
CARLAND: Affordable housing is a statewide issue all across North Carolina. I would advocate the Town of Mills River to encourage, with conditions, potential developers of multi-family residences, apartments and town homes to set aside a portion of their development to affordable housing for our residents. In addition, I propose the Town of Mills River explore the opportunity to revitalize unutilized commercial properties to residential sites.

What other priorities would you have for the town if you are elected?
MARK CASE: 1) A post office or place for residents to receive mail. A community post office gives residents access to the world, and establishes a town. 2) Community trash service- a place to take your trash. 3) Creation of community groups to look at community needs! Housing/ Health Care/ Dental/ Food / Water/ Jobs. Basic needs of the community. Get people working with the town to help themselves! 4) Taxes- Look at all uses of taxes paid by residents. What are we getting for our money that we were not getting before. 5) Community/Town Civic Center- A place where groups of over 50 to meet.
SNYDER: Continue to providing excellent customer service and within reason, expanding the current Town Park all within keeping the tax rate at a bare minimum
AUSTIN: If elected, my first priority would be to establish a clear plan for commercial development along our main corridors. It is only a matter of time before the development in the airport area creeps our way, and we must proactively prepare with clear guidelines for what that development can be, and what it can look like. Our ordinances should reflect what we want our town to look like in 15-20 years. Additionally, I will focus on seeking ways to assist our farmers so their land can remain in production, not only for this generation, but for the next as well. Finally, our Town Park is on of our greatest assets, and I would like to continue to develop services offered there and to improve river access.
CARLAND: TAXES: Maintain a low tax rate for our citizens while addressing concerns about quality of life, safety, and necessary services. Our town’s growth requires its leaders to constantly balance needs of its citizens with a fair and reasonable tax rate. PARK: My goal is to continue adding amenities and improve the park for all town residents without undue tax burdens. MAINTAIN GROWTH: The challenge for Mills River has always been to promote growth while preserving our rural character and rich agricultural history. My goal is to continue to attract new business, both small and large, support our agri-business community, while preserving Mills River’s character.

* * * * *

Support the Lightning with an All-Access digital and print subscription.