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Moss column: A few more of nimby's greatest hits

If opponents had been successful, Main Street would never have been made into a serpentine pedestrian-friendly street. [PHOTO BY SAM DEAN] If opponents had been successful, Main Street would never have been made into a serpentine pedestrian-friendly street. [PHOTO BY SAM DEAN]

Last week’s issue focusing on our county’s history of citizen uprisings against disruptive land uses generated a lot of reaction, nearly all of it positive.

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One of the features was a four-page lookback at citizen uprisings where residents had declared Not In My Backyard over developments they viewed as harmful.
On Lightning Radio on WTZQ Thursday morning (8 a.m. on 1600 AM and 95.3 FM), host Mark Warwick took a call from a regular listener who wanted to remind us of two big nimby fights a while back. One was the opposition to the zig-zagging of Hendersonville’s Main Street.
I knew about that whole big change and the fight that it provoked — everyone from merchants to teenagers cruising Main said it would kill the town, I gather. I don’t have as much actual reporting on that important (and bold) downtown improvement as I’d like but stay tuned. I’m an avid collector of nimby examples.
Which grassroots uprisings worked, which didn’t and why? And how would things have been different if citizen opposition had failed — giant TVA lakes would cover much of Henderson County, if not for one David v. Goliath victory; and maybe we’d have a more conventional (and more conventionally dead) downtown, if not for a failed nimby movement.
The Lightning Radio listener also told Mark about the fight over the Spartanburg Highway widening. That one, well before my time, had completely escaped me. Apparently folks said the widening wasn’t needed because the road was only busy when the G.E. plant let out at 3:30. Imagine where we’d be today if opponents had blocked that. Well, we don’t have to imagine. Just try to make a left turn onto U.S. 64 West.
I remember a few other disruptive developments residents hooted down. After the Asheville Motor Speedway closed — supposedly because the Biltmore House owners thought the noise was not historically compatible with George Washington Vanderbilt’s time — Asheville City Councilman Jan Davis suggested a new speedway on city-owned property at the Asheville Regional Airport. Henderson County residents went into an uproar and the idea was black-flagged in short order.
Last week I failed to list the 2011 Highland Lake soccer complex fight among the successful nimby quashes. The Henderson County Board of Commissioners were about to buy the Highland Lake golf course and make it a soccer park before the Sovereign Republic of Flat Rock got word that squealing children and sweaty teenagers might be kicking soccer balls in our land of serenity. That killed that.
As we pointed out last week, our humble burg boasts an impressive record of citizen uprisings stopping big projects. This week the Henderson County Board of Commissioners wisely said no to a building moratorium. A forced timeout would have solved none of the problems we’re experiencing and instead would have unnecessarily disrupted market forces. Of course, the commissioners’ action also means we’ll see plenty more citizen uprisings. I can’t complain. That’s how we know we’re in Henderson County, right?