The Watauga County Commissioners held a public hearing Monday evening and a number of people spoke, most in support of the moratorium, although there were several who spoke against it.
The Commissioners voted 3-2 to enact a 60 day moratorium on on development approval required for land uses subject to the Watauga County High Impact Land Use ordinance. Commissioners Jimmy Hodges and Perry Yates voted against the moratorium.
Commissioner Perry Yates said "A lot of people didn't know it, there are 17 ordinances besides the HILU on the books. My thing is when you start making rules and add ordinances to ordinances that you don't know if they work or not, you're asking for problems."
Commissioner Billy Kennedy said "Things have changed and we were tentatively getting ready for this to go, but we didn't know how it would go in the court. Now that it has been settled, and it's up to the county, I feel it is our due diligence to give ourselves 60 days to look into what possibilities we have for protecting these residents without hurting businesses in the area, and how to keep our county going forward with the town and county dynamic which has been going on as long as I've been here, for 35 years."
Commission Chairman John Welch said "Sixty days gives us some time to look at these tweaks (to ordinances) that we're all talking about and getting with our planning board, getting with the neighborhoods, getting with the business owners in the area formerly known as ETJ."
During the meeting, County Planning and Inspections Director Joe Furman pointed out that the moratorium would not affect Mountain View Speedway, one of the operations that several citizens spoke out about. Furman said a county can adopt a temporary moratorium on any “county development approval required by law” except, for example, residential uses. He said “Racetracks, among other uses, aren’t currently regulated by the county, so are not a development approval required by law." Several citizens voiced concern over multi-family housing, which Furman said the moratorium is not legally allowed to stop.
Chairman John Welch said the moratorium will give time to consider the High Impact ordinance, and that county staff, planning board and the commissioners would work together on county regulations during the 60 days. It was announced that there will soon be a link on the county website for more citizen comments.