Local News

Lawmakers Consider Referendum on Conservation

Posted July 17, 2007

— As North Carolina’s natural beauty attracts new residents, lawmakers are considering a bill aimed at preserving open space without harming the economy.

In North Carolina, developers annually build over 100,000 acres of open space, much of it former farmland. Since 2002, developers have bought 300,000 acres from farmers.

“We're in danger of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. People want to come here because we are a beautiful state,” said Edgar Miller with North Carolina Conservation Trust, which works with local trusts to preserve land and water resources.

The General Assembly is considering a bill that would allow a statewide referendum on a $1 billion bond.

The bond money would be raised over five years and put into a trust fund to buy open space and watersheds.

“It's important for us to take care of the future and for us to see that the inheritance for our children is taken care of with our stewardship of our natural resources,” said Rep. Lucy Allen, D-Louisburg.

North Carolina’s population is estimated to increase by 4 million by 2030 – the equivalent to the entire population of South Carolina moving in.

Developers said that they key to managing that population growth is keeping a balance between open space and economic development.

“Where you have to be careful is making sure that the government doesn’t come in and mandate open space. It’ll hurt your economy,” said Tim Minton with the Home Builders’ Association.


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  • Steve Crisp Jul 19, 2007

    Trees displaced by any urban area contribute virtually nothing to "clean air". In fact, by getting rid of untended, treed areas and replacing it with managed tree-lined urban roads, you probably get a net positive benefit by eliminating all the rotting leaves and dead trees which decompose and give off all sorts of "evil" greenhouse gases as they do so.

    Consider this, though. There are six billion people on the planet. Each person consumes 300 kg of oxygen per year for a total human use of about 2X10^12 kg per year. There is 10^18 kg of oxygen by weight in the atmosphere. If all CO to O synthesis were to stop today, it would take humans alone almost 25,000 years to deplete just one percent of our total O supply. So let's presume that all other O consumers equal one hundred times that number. That's still 250 years for just one percent depletion. And it is safe to say that we could probably come up with effective H2O separation in that time frame.

    We're not that significant.

  • Steve Crisp Jul 19, 2007

    "We're growing into a highway-throttled suburban wasteland"

    And this is exactly why we need to give up our silly ideas of creating a huge open wasteland in downtown Raleigh and develop that Dix property. With the existing downtown and Centennial Campus, we need to go up and very high density in the downtown area. We develop what is now a cesspool of depravity on the immediate southeast border. We improve Capital Blvd as the major traffic thouroughfare that it needs to be. We widen Western Blvd while we provincialize Hillbrorough and Glenwood South. And then we have the basis of becoming a major city with all the amenities that go with it like a radial transit system, consolidated hubs, destination retail in downtown, and cultural center.

    If you are reading this, you will never live long enough to see the outcome, but your grandkids will. And they will see the Raleigh downtown bounded by I-40 on the west and south, Raleigh Blvd on the east, and Wade Ave/Capital Blvd on the north.

  • hedgy_one Jul 18, 2007

    Steve Crisp, trees help clean our air so we can breathe! Maybe some of this money will be spent to purchase the 306 acres of Dix property for a park!!!! Now, that's the kind of open space we need!!! especially as Raleigh grows larger.

  • Durham-Raleigh Jul 18, 2007

    I like major cities too, Crisp Steve. But we're not growing into a major city. We're growing into a highway-throttled suburban wasteland. Improved conservation of open land is likely to increase density, not take away from it. Sheer size of population does not a city make in the absence of urban existence.

    As others have pointed out, a referendum is a great way to see if the voting public, AKA taxpayers, want to do this or not.

  • Steve Crisp Jul 18, 2007

    See, raleigh-durham...I have absolutely no problem with massive growth. I love New York City, Washington DC, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and all the other major cities in the United States. Except Philadelphia; I hate Philadelphia, but that's because of baseball. And I really dislike nature for the most part. Now, if it's cool nature like the Grand Canyon, Linville Gorge, or the Pacific Palisades, then fine. But to just let perfectly good, developable land that serves no particular WOW purpose go fallow is nuts. However...

    If a group of individuals wish to pony up their own money and purchase a thousand square miles to turn into a tree-hugging sanctuary, let them go for it.

    I just really resent government taking land out of circulation with our own tax dollars for the sole purpose of so-called preservation. In fact, I think the feds ought to dump probably 90 percent of their land holdings and put it into private hands.

  • hp277 Jul 17, 2007

    It's a referendum. What's wrong with letting the people vote on it?

  • Durham-Raleigh Jul 17, 2007

    Er, what? These "tree hugging wastes of land" help keep land out of the hands of developers, by paying landowners cash for their property. Which in turn helps our road systems, school facilities, and government funding.

    Steve, you might be happier somewhere that's neglected these important duties. Like Florida. Or Arizona. Wait, they're overgrown wastelands, which is why everyone's moving here. Never mind.

  • Steve Crisp Jul 17, 2007

    We can't support our road systems. We can't build the school facilities we need. We can't pay our government employees raises that at least keep up with inflation.

    But we can obligate ourselves to tree-hugging wastes of land?