Tuesday, August 22, 2006
The mountains and shores of the South Atlantic states are experiencing a development boom, as retirees and affluent second-home buyers look for alternatives to high-priced Florida. Perhaps no state is feeling the pressure as much as North Carolina. It used to be that most of the population was in the middle, while only poor mountain towns and fishing villages dotted the extremes. Now both coast and mountains are sprouting housing developments, perhaps faster than law can deal with them.
One concern is the future of natural landmarks, such as Chimney Rock of the western Carolina Blue Ridge. Many natural “attractions” of the East were once privately owned and operated for profit-making tourism. Chimney Rock still is, although the current owners are offering it for sale in the private market. Developers are interested. According to an AP story, the state, with help from the Nature Conservancy, tried to buy the famous rock outcropping and its surrounding forest, but could not match the asking price. The state is now considering whether to try again. This is the kind of issue that puts the public interest in preservation to the test: Do citizens love their natural treasures enough to pay for the cost of preserving them for future generations?