News from the Legislature

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Patrick Taylor 

Highlands Mayor

The Highlands real estate market is super hot.  With that bull market comes the push to build, build without delay. Everyone has to have their project done now, without delay on a nonstop basis.  Therein lies the problem.

The Highlands Community Plan has revealed that most of us view the town as a small village community, a respite of sorts from the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan areas. Folks want to get away from all the city noise, traffic and construction.  People come here, especially on the weekends, to have a modicum of peace and quiet.  

But these days they too often encounter contractors and landscaper working crews all times of the day and well into evenings, and even on weekends.  Uh, the escape from big city noise and clatter may not be as evident as it was in the past.  I am getting more and more complaints.

A town ordinance states that construction work can only be done Monday through Friday starting at 7:30 a.m. and going to 6 p.m.  Residents hearing construction activity before or after these times can call the nonemergency county dispatcher number at (828) 526-4131.  A Highlands police officer will investigate.  The same procedure can be followed for weekend violations. Commercial work is not allowed on weekends.  If a special permit has been obtained, work can be done on Saturday.  Those permits are normally issued for public works projects, such as utility installations, where time is of the essence.

Violations are complaint driven and guided by good judgement.  For instance, the police would not stop a  commercial paint crew from working inside a building on a Saturday where no noise is being generated.  A resident personally mowing his or her lawn on a Saturday afternoon is not a part of the ordinance. Also, judgement concerning noise level per the town noise ordinance is also applied in most cases. 

I encourage everyone to visit the town website and review the community plan.  The first rollout of the plan took place yesterday.  A zoom public meeting concerning the plan is scheduled for 6 p.m. on July 1. An ongoing review of the Highlands Community Plan will continue in the coming weeks before a final draft is adopted by the town board.

The June meeting of the Highlands Town Board of Commissioners is tonight [Thursday] at 7 p.m., at the Highlands Conference Center.  The first item on the agenda will be a public hearing for the town budget for FY 2021-22.  Another hearing will be for proposed amendments to the UDO [Unified Development Ordinance] for NCGS 160D Compliance. Specifically, we will be changing several labels on the town zoning map to comply with state wording.  We are not changing any zones or other items on the map. These changes are editorial adjustments only.

Also on the agenda is a request for parking improvements by Mountain Findings.  The board will also revisit the credit card fee waiver for paying utility bills. This item was reviewed at the last meeting, and staff will be providing further information before a final decision is made.

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