Local News

Lawmakers Consider Referendum on Conservation

Posted July 17, 2007 10:23 p.m. EDT

— 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.