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Green River-Tuxedo-Zirconia residents value rural character

Residents offered their input on land-use planning at a public input meeting. Residents offered their input on land-use planning at a public input meeting.

TUXEDO — On one hand, it ought to be simple to draw the land-use plan for Green River, Tuxedo and Zirconia. Many of them said during a community input meeting Tuesday night that they hope the rural character of the area stays like it is.

But when it came to concerns and a vision for the area 15 years from now, residents added a few more items to the wish list.
IMG 0031Senior planner Autumn Radliff writes down views of residents.The public input meeting at Tuxedo First Baptist Church was the first opportunity residents had to comment publicly on the Green River, Tuxedo and Zirconia, or GRTZ, community plan, the fourth area plan to be developed as part of the county's Comprehensive Plan.
Residents had already shown their interest before Tuesday night. The county planning department received back more than 1,000 surveys of 2,500 it sent out, a 45 percent return rate.
"The average survey generates a 10-20 percent return so they have an outstanding response rate," said county Planning Director Anthony Starr.
Among the top assets residents named were the rural character of the area, which is sparsely populated and features summer camps, farms and Lake Summit. All of those were named as assets too. Not all the comments were uniform. Some residents wanted stronger zoning to protect the rural nature of the area; others named land regulation as a threat.
Residents also took the opportunity to ask, in their listing of what's needed, for more support from the Board of Commissioners for enlarging the library and finishing the Tuxedo Community Park.
The 37,000-acre planning area covers 15.4 percent of the county, has a population of 4,730, just 4.4 percent of the total. The planning area border runs along Pinnacle Mountain Road, the Village of Flat Rock limits, U.S. 176 at U.S. 25, Laurel Creek, the Polk County line, the South Carolina line and the Transylvania County line.
The 78 people in attendance broke up into eight groups to list the community's strengths, list their concerns and express their vision for Green River-Tuxedo-Zirconia 15 years from now.
"I think it's nice (to be asked for input) because I think sometimes things happen and it's already happened and nobody knows about it," said Joann Fugate, who lives in Hendersonville but owns property in the planning area. She was armed with a dot, which the planners asked residents to stick on comments that they valued the most. "I know where I'm sticking mine," she said, on the points for "leaving it more rural."
Linda Lamphier, who was in the same group as Fugate, agreed.
"This is one of the most rural areas in Henderson County," she said. "It would be nice to have a rural area in the county. If people want development, they can choose to live in a developed area."

The GRTZ Community Planning Advisory Committee will next look at the results of the mailed surveys and Tuesday's input as it starts drafting recommendations for the Board of Commissioners.