On Monday night, a large crowd turned out for the public hearing to hear concerns from southeast Caswell residents about land use regulation, property concerns, and quality of life. The proposed quarry and asphalt plant in the lower section of the county has been a topic of great interest and concern for some time.
Almost 30 citizens signed up to speak in person. There were a number of other letters sent to the board that were read aloud.
Initially Chairman David Owen asked that speakers leave the courthouse chamber after their presentation and go to the Gunn Memorial Public Library to watch the meeting on ZOOM (so there would be plenty of room for social distancing). Midway through the meeting the board received word that the library viewing area was full so everyone was invited to remain in the chamber if they wanted to hear other speakers.
One after one of shared what their life here means to them. Although some were born and raised in Caswell County, many had chosen to move or retire here after searching all over the country for the ideal place to live quietly in the country.
The noise and traffic that will be generated are a great concern. It was clear that residents are terrified of the effect pollution will have on the air, the land, water, property values, and their own health. Some have serious health issues that cannot tolerate pollution.
“It’s the most peaceful, tranquil place I’ve ever lived,” said the first speaker, Susan Chandler. “We need zoning. It won’t take away our rights, it will protect our rights.”
Many of the speakers have invested their life savings in buying farms and/or building homes. Concerns about property values being destroyed were heavy on their minds.
Mark Zimmerman pointed out that “one size does not fit all” where zoning is concerned. “Each area is different with different needs.” He pointed out that although county-wide zoning was voted down at the November election, ballots showed that many citizens in the southeast corner were in favor of light zoning.
Gay Pleasant shared that she loves living here and plans to be buried here. “I would love for things to stay the same, but change happens whether we’re ready or not. Growth is coming. We must plan for it. We in the southeast know our lack of zoning regulations makes us ripe for the picking.”
A number of speakers talked of how one group of “pollutants” coming in was going to attract even more with the county becoming a “dumping ground.”
Rebecca Page urged the commissioners to “listen to citizens who care about the future of Caswell County. You have a duty to protect us.”
Likewise, Denise Burnette pleaded with the board to protect the county. “Anyone can come in and there’s no one to protect us. They are going to destroy our air. This is a big deal…what they’re doing is not okay.”