Self de­fense

The Covington News - - OPINION - Sandy More­house

Mem­bers of my fam­ily have lived in New­ton County since 1809. Early mem­bers were sim­ply sub­sis­tence farm­ers; some were suc­cess­ful planters; some were Methodist min­is­ters; ar­chi­tects; econ­o­mists, etc. Some were con­sid­ered wealthy, oth­ers fi­nan­cially chal­lenged. But re­gard­less of the times — var­i­ous de­pres­sions, Civil War de­struc­tion and the real es­tate col­lapse of re­cent years, one mem­ber of the fam­ily has man­aged to sur­vive with­out sell­ing any of the land left by our fore­fa­thers. For eight gen­er­a­tions we are proud of that ac­com­plish­ment.

I guess be­cause of my wife’s and my ac­tive in­volve­ment in var­i­ous New­ton County ac­tiv­i­ties I was asked to par­tic­i­pate on the small com­mit­tee that was to be charged with com­ing up with a fair res­o­lu­tion to the con­tro­versy over the so-called 2050 Plan. I em­phat­i­cally told our com­mis­sioner that I thought that I was the wrong guy to be on the com­mit­tee be­cause of the fact that my fam­ily is a large landowner and that some may con­sider me con­flicted. But he in­sisted, so I said OK. Sub­se­quently, in re­sponse to an ap­par­ent hue and cry by some of our cit­i­zenry, I was asked to bow out which I nat­u­rally and thank­fully did.

To those who were con­cerned that I was mis­cast in the job I want to re­spond that I am very much in fa­vor of pro­tect­ing our county from un­con­trolled devel­op­ment. I felt that the 2050 Plan, as orig­i­nally writ­ten, was un­re­al­is­tic in its ex­pec­ta­tions for a county such as New­ton – yet had many mer­its.. As far as my fam­ily is con­cerned, we have no in­ten­tion of di­vid­ing up our an­ces­tral land.. How­ever, I do rec­og­nize the sit­u­a­tion that oth­ers may be in want­ing the op­tion to liq­uefy their land in­vest­ments at some time in the fu­ture. Whether trans­ferrable devel­op­ment rights are is­sued for 3, 5 or 10 acres, I sin­cerely be­lieve they rep­re­sent a creative op­tion that landown­ers did not have be­fore to par­tially cash out of their land yet still hold onto it. Con­trary to some skep­tics, I be­lieve that small or larger tracts that are pre­served for­ever will in­crease in value as small farms be­come scarce. For those who want to live in tighter, more neigh­borly com­mu­ni­ties, the plan cre­ates ar­eas in all dis­tricts of the county for this type devel­op­ment. Only time will tell how the 2050 Plan plays out. Nev­er­the­less, I pray that we won’t sim­ply aban­don this at­tempt to plan for the fu­ture.

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