In 2012-2013, I wrote a regular column for this journal. One of these columns, published in the May 31, 2013 edition, was titled “Endangering What Makes Us So Special”.
This addressed my concerns about what I perceived at the time to be unexamined growth in southern pines. For me, that meant not systematically asking tough questions about relevance and impact before approving construction projects.
The high-profile project, announced a week earlier in The Pilot, was a “Vegas-style” showroom and IMAX theater that reportedly provided live entertainment for “the many guests who flock to the area.”
We have yet to see these projects come to fruition. But what we are experiencing – eight years later – is a seemingly unregulated building explosion that goes beyond endangering the area we call our home to destroy it.
For example, in an area within walking distance of downtown Southern Pines, a few years ago there was a nice country road with little traffic and mostly older houses on large lots with a few farms. equestrian. I loved driving or walking the route just to marvel at how something so bucolic could exist so close to town.
Today there are dozens of houses crammed into and around this road with heavy equipment right now pulling up more beautiful mature trees that shaded the area and provided refuge for wildlife.
Another construction project is underway. Additionally, there is at least one Airbnb on this route where guests often leave unsecured trash, which ends up being strewn across the properties of various owners by wild animals and roaming dogs.
I understand that growth is inevitable, and often desirable. However, there is a sustainable way to achieve growth that preserves the better and unique nature of a region and there is a reckless, profit driven approach. And it is a fact that growth, without preservation at some important levels, forever changes the nature of a place.
Take trees, for example. One of the most direct and cost-effective ways to reduce temperatures and keep the air clean is to maintain a tree-rich environment. Left untouched, trees are an eminently useful and romantic entity. They provide shade and an essential bulwark against flooding, reduce carbon dioxide in the air, diversify the landscape and invite the dreamer and climber alike.
And yet, rather than finding ways to preserve mature trees during expansion, too many builders are systematically stripping land to make room for more structures. Consider Morganton Road in its current state.
Then there is water. We may not have experienced a water shortage yet, but it may only be a matter of time. Recently, The Pilot reported that there is so much demand for water hookups for new buildings in Moore County that the lead time for these services is 30 days.
Meanwhile, a booming section of eastern Colorado Springs is literally running out of accessible water as demand has skyrocketed. Across the country, blooms of highly toxic algae regularly threaten water supplies. A recent article on the Truthout.org website addresses this issue in detail. And while our water supply is always secure, many of our ponds and lakes are not.
There are many other considerations associated with rapid and unsustainable growth: safety, traffic, and affordable housing to name a few. Drive Indiana Avenue and May Street with any regularity and you will be shocked at the amount of tractor trailer traffic.
A project currently in planning for a 31-acre parcel of former cow pasture between Vass and Southern Pines offers 40 new homes and 35 townhouses. Bordered by two narrow country roads, one of which has been periodically inundated over the years with grazing cows, this proposal has problems written all over it.
One need only drive or walk in parts of Moore County with your eyes wide open to see our landscape and the slow, easy way of life that characterizes life in small towns around the world is quickly disappearing. The big question is, is there anything we can do about it?
Beth Daniels lives in Southern Pines.