Swannanoa Pride to discuss key issues
by Andy Grabel
published January 31, 2007 12:15 am
When the Swannanoa Pride Community Coalition (SPCC) was formed last summer, its founders knew that residents and business owners would be interested in contributing to a pro-active group to influence the community’s future. An overflowing community meeting in October at the Swannanoa Fire Station reflected that hundreds of people wanted a say in the community’s growth.
Six months after its inception, the grassroots organization has four task forces with dozens of members to take on distinct issues, prioritized according to survey results from more than 200 Swannanoa residents.
The revitalization and commercial development; incorporation; Swannanoa River, parks, and cleanup; and residential development and land use task forces will meet this month to discuss ways to further the efforts of their individual groups. The designation of the task force groups allows residents to serve on a group that will explore issues and concerns that impact them.
“We hope the Swannanoa Pride Community Coalition will bring residents and business owners in the community together to have a stronger voice,” Carol Groben, co-chair of SPCC and head of the incorporation task force, said. “Each task force will organize itself into whatever organizational structure will work best for its particular mission.”
The cleanup task force will work with area environmental agencies to develop a plan for improving the aesthetic appeal and environmental health of Swannanoa.
“We want to work with Quality Forward on controlling litter and RiverLink on exploring the possibilities for properties along the river that have been acquired by the county,” A.D. Anderson, longtime Swannanoa resident and leader of the Swannanoa River, parks, and cleanup task force, said. “We will look at how we can improve the connectivity of the parks and if we can acquire a right of way to create more pathways in certain areas.”
Buncombe County has purchased three properties in Swannanoa in the interests of minimizing damage to the flood plain with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency hazard mitigation grant program and North Carolina’s Hurricane Recovery Act, according to Angie Ledford, emergency management planner for Buncombe County Emergency Services. These properties include 2.74 acres at Longview Mobile Home Park, 10.5 acres at the intersection of Old 70 and Grovemont Avenue, and 0.5 acres adjacent to Riverview Mobile Home Park. The county is also currently negotiating the sale of three additional properties in Swannanoa.
The inability for the Swannanoa community to influence its future as a town has caused frustration for some residents. The incorporation task force will explore the feasibility of Swannanoa growing into a municipality and the potential impact.
“I think the people of Swannanoa are interested in the possibility of incorporation,” Groben said. “I think the community wants to find a way to have a grater say in its future, and self-governance may be a way to achieve that goal. It will all depend on what we find in the feasibility study and the feedback the incorporation task force gets from the community.”
More than 40 people attended the first meeting of the land use task force late last year. The task force then broke into three smaller groups to explore specialized land use issues: land use, conservation and greenspace, and affordable housing subgroups. Rebecca Williams, Swannanoa resident and land use task force leader, said she hopes that the subgroup can work with area developers to encourage growth that will have a positive impact on Swannanoa residents.
“A key concern for people in Swannanoa with these high priced developments is if they will be priced out of the area and not be able to pay their taxes,” Williams said.
One Swannanoa resident believes that change in the community will be gradual, and it is important that residents take hold of their future now.
“Everybody seems to believe the hype about how change is going to happen instantly,” Charles Rix, who has lived in Swannanoa for eight years, said. “Change is the only certain thing about Swannanoa’s future, but the change and more jobs will come when businesses see a greater potential to make a profit here.”
See page A9 for a complete listing of upcoming task force meetings. To make a donation to support SPCC, make checks payable to “Swannanoa Pride Community Coalition” and mail it to SPCC, 15 Bee Meadows Circle, Swannanoa, N.C., 28778. Contributions are not tax-deductible.
Andy Grabel can be reached at email@example.com.
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