Gabriel Sistare, staff writer
On November 19, the Division of Water Quality and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a public hearing at A.C. Reynold’s High School.
Swannanoa Pride Community Coalition, a local community organization, issued a letter to the Division of Water Quality concerned with the development of a golf course at the Cliffs High Carolina.
The golf course, designed by Tiger Woods, would cover 6,149 feet of wild trout stream under culverts.
Members from the Swannanoa Valley area attended the public hearing. Many of these members had lived in the area for over forty years, as well as individuals who had recently made Swannanoa their home.
While the majority of speakers were opposed to any development along the ridge dividing the Swannanoa and Fairview communities, a number of contractors employed by the Cliffs Communities spoke in favor of the development.
Mark Malcomb owns a construction company, and he said that in his three years with Cliffs Communities Walnut Cove, he’s experienced environmentally friendly members. Along with Malcomb, Kirby Harris, of Harris Stone Masonry thought that the Cliffs were the “best green friendly builders” he had worked with.
The first speaker of the night, Coleman Smith, a resident of Arden, thought that the project was “overall not necessary,” and he continued, “it is cutting up our community.”
Many of the individuals who spoke against the development of the golf course were from the neighboring subdivision of Alpine Mountain.
One resident, Bill Boyd, said that the community had already started to monitor its ground water quality. “It all comes down to trust. And ninety percent of developers you can’t trust,” Boyd said in his closing statement.
Another resident of the Alpine Mountain community Jennifer Taylor wondered what the blastings from Cliffs construction were doing to the water quality. Taylor said that one of her neighbors had to replace a well pump prematurely due to Cliff related run-off and erosion.
Departing from the original topic of the hearing, one resident of Fairview thought that “too many people are coming to the area trying to make decisions for us,” to which Warren Wilson senior Jake Salt responded, the discussion of the golf course development should be “expanded to all people who live, and are going to live in the area.”
The meeting continued with Bob Gunn, a resident of Fairview, citing the May 2008 issue of “Golf Digest Magazine,” which read, “in 2025 1.8 billion people will be living in conditions of absolute water scarcity.”
Both supporters and detractors were represented in good numbers, but it seemed the majority were against the Cliffs Communities receiving any development permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Francois Benedict, a resident of Swannanoa, said the Cliffs should return to the drawing board and come up with a practical alternative. Benedict did not want a golf course designed by a “Toxic Tiger.”