Oct 152007

s we have seen so often since this Commissioner majority took control, taxpayers again take a back seat as the location of the Weddington water tower is revisited less than a month after the board voted on the site selection. Water Tower near School

Lest we forget what the PAID consultant engineers said! Forget about the No.1 recommended site, Mecklenburg Senator Robert Pittenger’s property and lets ignore the No.2 site recommendation, Weddington Mayor Nancy Anderson’s property.

Lets go instead with Commissioner Parker Mills’ hand picked location, though it was not reviewed by the paid consultants. Forget how much more it costs, it’s just another example of those vaunted business decisions!

Water Tower – Part II

Even though the County Commissioners selected Site 1A last month, evidently Commissioner Parker Mills has other ideas about the water tower location and with this in mind, he made a pitch to the Union County Board of Education to place the Water Tower on the new elementary school site on Cox Road at Weddington-Matthews Road.

On Oct. 2nd, the badgered school board voted 6-3, to allow Public Works Department to utiltize a back corner of the school property for the water tower as requested.

The Enquirer Journal: School board OKs water tower site

There was NO public hearing by the School Board, not a single parent was allowed to express their views on a decision that not only sets a new precedent, as school property now is fair game for Union County Public Works projects, like pump stations, holding tanks, and substations. If there is logic for monstrous use like a 1,500,000 gallon, 853 foot water tower, then any lessor use should be OKed without a whimper. Shame on the School Board for allowing themselves to be bullied.

$1.3 million more — but who cares?

The estimates revealed by Mr. Mills is that the cost of implementing the water tower at the Cox Road site is $1.3 million more than building than on Site 1, (Senator Pittengers property). Frankly, I’d like to see an independent assessment of the site and the costs associated with building the tower on that location.

Finally, I would really like to hear a rationalization as why the nine assessed site locations were inadequate and the Mills’ Cox Road site is a better deal at $1.3 million or more. Don’t worry, I won’t hold my breath waiting.


At last night’s County Commissioners meeting, consideration of a new location was tabled until the next meeting. A number of citizens critical of the plan, spoke their minds during public comments.

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  39 Responses to “Weddington Water Tower Redux: Mo Taxpayer’s Money! No Mo Reason!”

  1. I sent in a letter to EJ saying that I can show you a school and a water tower that have existed in harmony for 60 years, at least. That does not change. The site is not bad because it is a school site.
    On the other hand, if it is going to add 1.3 mil to the costs, then it is a bad site. Just wanted to get that straight. All things being otherwise equal, there is no reason not to put it on Cox Road. But, a 1.3 mil gap is hardly close to equal, if that is the case.

  2. Everyone knows that tall water towers and teenage school kids are a perfect mix. Haven’t you ever watched “That 70s Show” ?

  3. First it sounds like the writer has a hidden agenda against Senator Pittenger. As a proper owner, Senator Pittenger should be afforded the same rights as any other citizen of Union County, NC. One of those rights is the right to sell property at a price in which he decides. As I understand it he offered to sale the “A1″ commercially zoned property at the going commercial property price for the market. Now he is being ridiculed because he would not discount his commercial property to the residentially zoned prices (roughly 1/3).

    If memory serves the area require was roughly 3 acres at a commercially zoned price of maybe $300,000 per acre for total of $900,000. The residential price the was attempted to be extorted from Senator Pittenger through media mudslinging was $100,000 per acre, for a total of $300,000.

    That’s a $600,000 dollar difference that appears to have been used to calculate this articles $1.3 million dollar total. If that is the case then the article is misleading by that much (at least), putting the possible increase at only $700,000, NOT $1.3 million.

    That said, the writer has not shown any figures that explain that difference or increase, so even the $700,000 difference we just calculated is based on here say and subject to further scrutiny. This and previous articles in the same vein reek more of partisan political attack using “fuzzy math” than of a valid issue for tax payers.

  4. By the way, to Mark: there are no teenagers in elementary school. Not to mention personal, parental, and teacher responsibility should play a part in the concern you voiced.

  5. Joe, welcome to the ‘Scribe!

    I couldn’t agree more with your statement that Senator Pittenger should be treated like any other citizen of Union County, but in fact, he isn’t — he lives in Mecklenburg, he invests in Union.

    You said,
    As I understand it he offered to sale the “A1? commercially zoned property at the going commercial property price for the market. Now he is being ridiculed because he would not discount his commercial property to the residentially zoned prices (roughly 1/3).

    Actually Joe, Senator Pittenger’s property is zoned residential/agricultural (RCD Weddington), you have it reversed. He is assuming a commercial property value of $300K vs the going rate of $100K for residential.

    To understand the numbers being bantered about, you may wish to review the report submitted by the Consultant/Engineers, who were hired by Union County Public Works to assess possible location sites.

    Here is the report: Site recommendations

    Senator Pittenger’s investment property was listed as the best location for both physical and cost basis. Should he be excluded because of his office, network of friends or deep pockets? Or is it partisan to expect all the property owners be treated equally, regardless of stature?

    To your question about the $1.3 million difference. Those are not my figures, but a number voiced by Comissioner Parker Mills and the Public Works department. The actual estimate has not been published. If you review the Consultants Report linked above, you will note that Senator Pittengers property was not used as the baseline cost, but was the least expensive relative to the baseline.

    One assumes the differential quoted of $1.3 million more expense relates to that baseline.

    The real question in my mind, call me partisan, is why are the commissioners ignoring the top two sites without even attempting to negotiate with the owners, much less than coming up with a completely new and more expensive site.

    Lets review the reasons why the consultants selected Senator Pittenger’s investment property as the best choice.

      • It is the least cost alternative.
      • It contains the highest elevation of all the sites considered.
      • It can easily be accessed from Providence Road.
      • It can easily connect to the 24 inch water main along Providence Road.
      • The surrounding area little or no development or dwellings.
      • The existing nearby stream can make an excellent receptor for emergency tank training.
      • It is near the location proposed in the master plan.

    I don’t see anything fuzzy with those reasons, nor do I see a reason to chose a location that will cost $1.3 million or more to implement.

  6. Hey Mark-D,

    I was wondering.. were you born yesterday? When did you get this idealistic myth in your head that politics had anything to do with logic, rather than personal connections and accrued favors?

  7. Mr. Burgess, are you a member of Pittenger’s gubernatorial or congressional campaign staff?

    His abusive and unethical approach to boosting his investment property values is a disgrace. Just his unethical vote FOR an amended senate bill (amended by him to boost the value of a piece of his investment property on Cuthbertson Road by millions of dollars) in the 2003 legislative session should have had him removed from the senate, at the very least, if not prosecuted. For somebody who preaches conservatism, values, and Christianity, he sure doesn’t set a very good example with his dishonesty and unethical behavior.

    I guess he should be treated like “any other” property owner – except that he already isn’t getting treated like “any other” property owner. He is consistently treated better, and with substantial favoritism.

    Oh, and partisan? I think the scribe may lean republican – just like Pittenger. I know that I am republican – so any “political attacks” I might make against Pittenger certainly couldn’t correctly be called “partisan”.

    They would simply be attacks against unethical, reprehensible, and possibly illegal behavior.

  8. Rick,

    If you’re a republican then I’m Mary Queen of Scots.

    Your complete disregard for private landowner rights places you firmly to the left of center. Your actions in Mineral Springs define your disdain for anyone who views land as an investment.

  9. Rick,

    I am a ‘Reagan’ republican and proud of it. And even after 25 years of political awareness, I am still an idealist when comes to the way things ought to be.

    Living in Union County, one gets doused in North Carolina ‘Republicani$m’, where most of our legislators are in bed with the developer special interests or in some cases the legislator is a developer, who use their position to feather their own nests. With multilayer LLC’s, it’s akin to insider trading in many respects. The whole ‘Real Estate’ food chain, involving large landowners, developers, banks, homebuilders and Realtors, have a deeply vested interest in keeping the status quo of unplanned, unmanaged growth the prevailing course for Union County. Read some of the comments attacking the APFO and managed growth on this blog, it’s like the John Birch Society was reborn to promote large landowners and development at any cost.

    Consider Senator Pittenger land holdings in Union County, specifically the 80 acre Weddington tract. The Senator’s lawyer and son where present at the September Commissioners meeting where the Weddington water tower was first considered. In light of Mr. Burgess’ thinking the property was commercially zoned and the Senator’s son stating that they’d only sell ALL the property for $300,000 per acre (a commercial property value), you’d think it was commercially zoned.

    In fact, the 80 acre parcel is zoned residential in both the current Weddington Land Use map and the future Land Use map. To get his property rezoned commercial, he’d have to convince the Weddington council to change their land use and then rezone.

    If you consider all the backroom deals that went into the Rea Road extension (road improvements, sewer and MUMPO TIP list placement), with Weddington’s current mayor Nancy Anderson at the forefront, then perhaps commercial zoning for the Senators investment property is just a couple ‘special deals’ away.

    Nothing would surprise me except ethical behavior. :shock:

  10. I contacted Senator Pittenger to ascertain why, after making millions of dollars through legislative acts to annex land into Waxhaw for increased density, he was so adamant about not contributing to the community he had a direct affect on, in terms of creating the need for added infrastructure.

    According to an email I received from the Senator, he stated, ” Tracy…they [Union County Commissioners] had no interest in negotiating…and frankly it would be an offensive unruly blight for years to come for everyone.” (Email dated 9/26/07). I wonder if that had anything to do with the strong-arm letters from Pittenger’s attorney?! And, Heaven forbid, our board majority do anything to hold developers or large landowners accountable or expect them to contribute for the growth they bring to the area. Not in Union County! This isn’t a donation or a taking…the Senator will be compensated, fair market value (based on CURRENT zoning–not what he “thinks” he will get), for the land.

    He also stated that Mayor Anderson didn’t want the tower on his property either. After contacting members of the Weddington council, it became very apparent that Mayor Anderson was speaking for herself…not the Town of Weddington.

    Senator Pittenger went on to say, “Regardless of what you think, the water tower was a major impediment to future quality developments on that parcel, which should be of concern to most of the well thinking folks in the town. Feel free to take your own poll, but logic prevails that it would be a tacky embarrassment someday. all the best…rmp” What a classic example of NIMBY…and this, from a Senator who claims to be a “voice of the people” and advertises constantly about irresponsible spending.

    Lastly Pittenger wrote: “the matter of the water tower is settled. I don’t think you understand the impact of adversely affecting land values in the area with the tower, not just our property, which would reduce the tax basis of the properties. Three of the commissioners understood that and the matter is settled.” (email dated 9/27/07).

    Hmmm….wonder what he’s thinking now?

  11. The Scribe wrote:

    …Living in Union County, one gets doused in North Carolina ‘Republicani$m’, where most of our legislators are in bed with the developer special interests or in some cases the legislator is a developer, who use their position to feather their own nests…

    Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with that statement.

    In that context, there is really very little (if any) difference between Sen. Robert Pittenger and former Rep. Jim Black. It really doesn’t matter what traditional party label they claim to operate under, Democrat or Republican.

  12. Mark D,

    Thanks for the welcome. I appreciate this site as I have been seeking sources of local information (other than just newspapers) since I moved to Monroe. The details you provided paint a more detailed picture of what’s happening with choosing the location of the tower. Again thanks.

    Admittedly I misread your previous article “Weddington Watertower: Anywhere but Sen. Pittenger’s property,” which is why I thought Senator Pittenger’s property was zoned commericial. The reasons for his property being the first choice are logical and compelling and I have no dispute with them.

    All that said, Senator Pittenger is still a citizen of North Carolina and the U.S. (whether he lives in Union County or not is not relevant) and is a private land owner (whether for investment or dwelling is also irrelevant) and should still be afforded the same right of refusal to sale his private property as any of us would want and expect of our own.

    If he bought the property at residential zone prices and is holding out with a speculation of the land to be rezoned commercial before he wants to sell, that is just the basic tactics of smart investing and free market capitalism that our economy is based upon. This is the impression I was left with after reading the above mentioned article and the one we are discussing now.

    However, with the details in your response of the possible back room political deals, I can see where the concern comes from. There should at least be investigation and if Senator Pittenger is found to be doing anything illegal or that violates ethics codes, he should be prosecuted accordingly.

  13. Mr. Becker,

    Is he running for governor? I’ve been hoping for that. It would be a welcomed change to see NC government take a conservative turn. To answer your question, no. Wish I was. I might be a bit more “well to do” financially if I were.

    Mark Raines above does seem to have a point. You don’t sound much like a Republican. Not because you attack Senator Pittenger, but because of the use of phrases like “North Carolina ‘Republicani$m’, ” and what appears to be a disdain for private property rights.

    Now if Senator Pittenger is doing anything illegal of that violates ethic standards, he should have to answer for all of it accordingly. But you’ve not presented any evidence to me that this is the case.

    What is the number of the bill you mentioned that he voted on, or if not the number the name or something I could use to look it up? In what events has he been treated with favoritism? Forgive my skepticism, but after 7.5 years of hearing baseless attacks thrown at G.W. Bush (when there exists some things in truth he should be attacked for) and after escaping the Socialist Republic of CharMeck (where I here Senator Pittenger as the only voice sounding off to move back to the right direction), I need a little more evidence to believe your claims.

  14. Tracy,

    Do you have a copy of the strong arm letter you mentioned? What threats or implications did it entail? Who were the swing voters on the board that it targeted?

  15. Alas, no…I am a republican…heve been registered that way since 1972, so I’m no latecomer to the party…

    But I will question the ideology of the current “Republican” party, and the loose interpretations of the word “conservative” that people are so fond of. Anyway, if The Scribe describes himself as a “Reagan Republican”, I might describe myself as a “Nixon Republican” or a “Teddy Roosevelt Republican”. Foremost in those ideologies were preservation of civil liberties (and an aversion to spying on our own citizens unless, of course, you were sitting in Nixon’s office with the tape recorder running in the back room ;) ); preservation and protection of the environment; control and even elimination of monopolies and monopolistic practices; freedom of religion, without efforts to promote one particular subset of one religion over all others; recognition and protection of the working and middle classes instead of institutionalized pandereing to “the haves and the have-mores” (Bush’s own words); respect for all constitutional rights, including those pesky ones like “due process”, “right to counsel”, “freedom from unreasonable search”, and a bunch of others that seem to get in the way of the agendas of a lot of current Republicans..

    Property rights? Well, property rights apply to everybody, whether the speculative owner of 1,000 investment acres or the working-class homeowner living in a 1,300-sf house on a 1/4 acre lot (note how your “Mr. Raines” frequently describes the latter with such disdain). But, somewhere along the way, “property rights” in the current Republican lexicon has morphed into a single “property right”: the right to develop any and all land to maximum profitability no matter the appropriateness, sustainability, or effects on public health, safety, and welfare of such a policy.

    Property ownership actually consists of a “bundle of rights”, and the subdivision and development right is but one. Proper land-use regulation attempts to balance all of the rights within that bundle. When lack of leadership or downright lack of ethics causes elected officials to promote the “development right” at the expense of all others, the owners of other properties may see some of their rights taken: the right to be free of pollution or other toxic nuisances, the right to be free of flooding and other public safety nuisances, the right to be free of excessive and oppressive taxation to subsidize somebody else’s development “right”…the right of quiet enjoyment of one’s own property.

    Conservative? Well, recently the NC Supreme Court was the “lucky” recipient of several judges who ran on a “conservative” platform, a platform that decried such practices as “judicial activism”. Let’s take a look at a recent “conservative ruling by that court, shall we?

    In Nolan v. Marvin ( http://www.aoc.state.nc.us/www/public/sc/opinions/2006/488-05-1.htm ) the Court engaged in pure judicial activism – well, at least the “conservative” members did. Effectively, although the Village of Marvin had complied with all provisions of the relevant statutes, the Court found that there were some additional criteria that the legislature must have meant to be included, even though the statutes are abundantly clear and there are no such criteria written into them. I guess the legislature somehow just forgot to write part of the law. The “conservative” justices legislatively added some sort of expectation of a level of service to be provided, a condition that was not imposed by the statutes. Anywhere. In fact, they just made it up. The statute made it clear that the number of services provided by a town had no bearing upon that town’s authority to annex property. That is “legislation from the bench”. That is “judicial activism”. Of course, I guess since somebody who calls himself “conservative” decided to legislate from the bench, it’s not called “judicial activism”; after all, only liberals do that.

    I’ll tell you what” when somebody runs for office and uses the word “conservative” in the rhetoric, red flags run up flagpoles everywhere in my thought process.

    Pittenger? Check S705 from the 2003 session of the NC General Assembly: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2003&BillID=h705&submitButton=Go

    Pittenger arranged to have a piece of property he owned in Union County annexed into Waxhaw by legislative fiat when the current NC General Statutes would have prohibited such an annexation. He was able to nearly quadruple the density allowed on his 550 speculatively-owned acres.

    Not only had he tried to sneak this one through in 1999 when then-Rep. Max Melton was made aware of the intent and correctly killed the bill (Pittenger wasn’t in the Senate at that time), but his successful attempt in 2003 (when he was a Senator) was simply attached onto an already-passed and unrelated Jim Black house bill (ah, the sweet irony…birds of a featheralways help each other out). The hastily-amended bill passed the Senate with even Pittenger voting for it ( http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/voteHistory/RollCallVoteTranscript.pl?sSession=2003&sChamber=S&RCS=762 ). Well, now, wouldn’t you think that, even if NC Senate ethics would allow such a vote (they don’t), maybe Pittenger’s so-called high personal ethics might have caused him to – symbolically at least – not vote on a bill that directly boosts the value by millions of dollars of a piece of property he owned?

    And you’d like somebody like that to be Governor????? Dang, I never thought anybody could make Mike Easley look good. :D

    Oh, finally…it was The Scribe himself (“Reagan Republican”) who used the phrase “North Carolina ‘Republicani$m’”, not me. :) I simply agreed with him because, all too often, it’s accurate. :(

  16. When my daddy came home in the evening and wanted to know how the garden plowing went today, he did not ask me to present a white paper showing how the various elements of the chore went, (how wet was the ground, how hard was the ground, was the mule fed well so as not to be hungry and eat the corn, were the cultivator blades all set in the right direction.) He simply went to the garden and looked at it and made his feelings known in the most appropriate way.
    It is inspection of results that damns anyone associated with the development on Cuthbertson Road. Having any part in what has gone on there is enough evidence that you fail to act in a civilized fashion, a professional fashion, or a humane fashion.
    Senator Pittenger’s credibility as a man who cares about the people of Union County is established, by the actions of Senator Pittenger. He has participated in one of the great crimes against our people, on Cuthbertson Road. Case closed.

  17. First, I am no Republican, never was, never will be. I don’t belong to any organized party. Therefore, I am a Democrat.
    Now to the foundations of Republicanism, and particularly the conservative side of it, because it has always had both conservative and liberal componants. If it didn’t, It would not be worth a dang and would accomplish nothing. That is for another day.
    The foundations of conservtism come in complexity, its recognition, and how that complexity must be dealt with in an orderly fashion. In the South, we have seen this relative to race. On the surface, ti was just we whites denying basic rights to, not only Negros, but anyone who had a detectable amounty to Negro blood. So we passed laws, lots of laws, and yet today, they are still hanging nooses to intimidate people. The schools are, in many cases, voluntarily resegregating, and attitudes are going backward relative to the integration objectives.
    When we say that the the economy of this country is millions of people making decisions every day about their best interests, then we need to understand that it is the complexity of that process that we can not just wave a magic wand and change. Conservatism recognizes complexity and argues for systematic steps that work from the roots to change things. I am that kind of conservative, and danged proud of it.
    But, like liberals, real conservatives would be an insignificant few if not for the creedals
    that they are able to attract. First, the likes of Barry Goldwater were the last of the significant pure conservatives. This bunch today would not know conservatism if it bit them in the butt.
    Locally we have several groups of creedal conservatives. There is the Jesus bunch. God bless them for their numbers are much smaller than they would have you believe. That is because most of them that want to pass themselves as such are really just racial bigots, the second group. Can you say Jesse Helms? Then there is the crowd that believes that they are the reason that some god allowed humanity to get to this height. They are the suburbanites. If you believe that George Bush is a real conservative, then you have little knowledge of the area and need to educate yourself. He violates nearly every tenet of conservatism, daily. Conservatives were the first humanists and they believe in fair taxation.
    Here is the jist. The Republican soup is a rancid mixture. It stinks.

  18. Mr. Burgess…the letter from Senator Pittenger’s attorney was sent to the Board of Commissioners. As such, I assume iyour can request a copy, as a matter of public record, from the Clerk. I wish I had a copy, but I don’t. (However, you can review the documents and comments about the sites that were considered on the County website’s September 17 Agenda packet)

    The letter basically stated that not only would the County have to pay (what I consider to be an elevated price based on the current zoning) for the acreage, but that they would have to compensate the Senator for all the other land contiguous to the tower for any and all depreciation the tower may cause. I am not commenting on whether that is something he can claim legally, I was commenting on the tone and content of the letter. Everyone who owns property that is a consideration for the tower faces the same issues as Sen. Pittenger…he just cried the loudest.

    As for “swing votes”…there really are none. The majority is what it is (or is who it is) and the other two are not connected to the developer food chain; therefore, have not been swayed to vote that way. My guess is that Pittenger’s land was “out” before the letter was written, and the communication was just a show of muscle as a reminder of who they were dealing with.

  19. Rick,

    Don’t even get me started on the mess that is Nolan vs Marvin. Marvin is probably the single worst town in the entire county, with the most anti-development zealots I’ve ever seen. Marvin is split in two by waxhaw-marvin rd, with one side being inside marvin and the other side being OUTSIDE of marvin, just in union county.

    Guess what- land is worth TWICE as much on the non-marvin side of the road.

    The clowns in marvin govt have been trying for years to say that they can annex land because they provide services. The only problem is- the only “service” they provide is TAX COLLECTION. That’s it. No fire, no sewer, no water, no animal control, no police, no nothing. Tax collection is not a service, it’s a protection racket.

  20. Mr. Becker,

    Thanks for the information Senator Pittenger. Now you have put some meat on the bones of the accusations and I stand newly informed. This kind of dialogue is the very reason I sought information which led me to this website. I hope engage in other discussions of this nature with you in the future.

    Now with that said, to stay on topic, while Senator Pittenger has apparently been involved in back room deals to increase the value of his investment property (and the evidence you’ve provided has affected my opinion of him), to my knowledge, he still owns the property through completely legal means, and thus still has to right to refuse to sell.

    Rather than taking this thread into the other areas you mentioned, I’ll agree to disagree on certain parts and leave them to come up later with more relevant articles. Not surprised to see you mention Teddy Roosevelt when describing your “style” (for lack of better terms) of Republicanism. I can agree with a lot that line of thinking.

    Just curious about one thing though. What is general opinion of Reagan as president?

  21. Aubrey,

    Well said. I don’t necessarily agree with some the finer points you made with regard to racism/segregation, but to use your word, that is for another day.

    I am registered Republican, but not loyal to the label. Make no mistake that my earlier demand for proof of the claims were not a “circle the wagons” type of scenario we see all to often for our political employees. though I’d ask the same for accusations of any Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, etc. Until two years ago I was unaffiliated, but noticed that I found more (not all) of my choice of candidates coming from the Republican party. Albeit plenty were simply the lesser of two evils, to try to minimize the bleeding if you will. So I signed up because I thought I had a better chance to affect positive change from the inside. I’ll still not ever vote party lines, unless each individual candidate for each seat available just happens to all be in the same party. But my loyalty lies with my principles based first on my family, then community, state, nation, etc. Party only fits in so long as they do their job as an organized group to serve those principals. When that is compromised, I have no sympathy for the individual or group who did so, regardless of the label they claim.

    Your right about GW Bush. While he has done some things right the might be classified as conservative, he has done (or failed to do) many things that would just make good sense.

  22. Joe,

    As far as I know Union County has the power to condemn private property for a needed public use, such as roads or schools, as long as a “fair price” is paid in compensation.

    The question is- who gets to decide what a fair price is?

  23. With secondary sites offered, it could be argued (especially by lawyer son’s) that the site is not needed since alternatives exist. This would be a fair question for Clerk of Court Tripp Helms. I would hope that 3 acres of 80 belonging to a state Senator would get the same consideration with respect to alternatives as 9/10 of acre belong to the average “Joe” in Monroe and vice versa.

  24. Mr. Burgess,

    I’m glad to help inform you about Pittenger. It’s politicians like him who give the rest of us a bad name. While I agree that he probably obtained the Rea Road investmnent property – as well as the Cuthbertson Road property – legitimately, it is the means by which he abuses his position of public trust to boost the resale values of those properties to enrich himself that is disgraceful.

    Oh, and his sanctimony and smirking self-importance, but I guess that’s just a style issue. :D

    As for Reagan…it’s virtual blasphemy in Republican circles to state or imply that Reagan was anything less than a god. All I’ll say right now is that I voted for him – twice – but, in hindsight, I do not agree with or approve of a lot of the products of his presidency. I think the elevation of Reagan to legendary godlike status has done a disservice to historical accuracy and to critical analysis of policy.

    Is that blasphemy? ;)

  25. Rick, you said:

    “it is the means by which he abuses his position of public trust to boost the resale values of those properties to enrich himself that is disgraceful.”

    So tell me, if you think using elected public power to increase the resale value of property is disgraceful, how do you feel about using elected public power to DECREASE the resale value of property? (ie changing the zoning in mineral springs from one house per one acre, to one house per two acres)

    As long as it makes greedy landowners hurt in the pocketbook you’re all for it, eh?

  26. Mark, your ignorance is astounding.

    The per-acre value of large tracts of land in Mineral Springs has increased far more than the Union County average increase since the adoption of conservation subdivision requirements and lower-density zoning. You really need to do some research before hitting the “submit” button.

    The type of “developer” buying in Mineral Springs now is of a far higher caliper than even the usual high-end tract builder (like the junk Nolan puts out). In two of our newest subdivisions in progress, the developer will be living in the subdivision, and in each case both the developer’s parents and inlaws will also be occupying houses.

    This type of buyer is willing to pay top dollar for the raw land, knowing that the same sort of development will be taking place on the next tract over. We’re not talking about the likes of Dean Harrell or Centex here.

    So, Mark, you are wrong. Totally and unarguably wrong. As I recommended, check your facts before you post.

    As for the role of elected officials: whether or not an official action raises or lowers somebody else’s property values is not a relevant comparison to the Pittenger situation. Pittenger’s “crime” is that he uses his legislative position to unethically raise the value of his own property. That sort of misconduct is specifically prohibited and, in most cases, illegal and felonious.

    In the case of my own property, you (by your flawed logic) should be proud of my selflessness: my 3.12 acres was originally zoned RA-40 (1 house per acre); it is now zoned AR (1 house per 2 acres). So, according to you, I have just caused my property value to decrease to 1/3 of its original value, since I formerly could have created 3 lots, and now I can no longer subdivide at all.

    Of course, in the case of an existing subdivision like mine, I think that the effect of the new zoning on value is probably a wash. I’m not worried about it, and neither are my neighbors in this subdivision of 3- to 10-acre lots.

  27. Becker,

    How do you know that land in Mineral Springs would not be worth even MORE if you kept it at 1 house per 1 acre? You are taking the runaway growth in price that happened county-wide, and then saying “hey, look, even when I changed it to 1:2 acres the value is still higher than when we started” when in fact everyone’s land countywide went up.

    If your assumption is correct, why not rezone everyone’s land to 1 house per 10 acres, then according to your logic the value of land will go up even more! Heck, lets make it 1 house per 100 acres! Then we can tap into the pool of local NBA and NFL players who can afford 10 million dollar estates.. Im sure there are enough of them to soak up all the large tracts of land around here.

    Answer me this, Becker- how much is land worth per acre in mineral springs, and how much is it worth per acre in weddington? Oh, SNAP, you aren’t going to answer it. Everywhere else in western union county land is worth more per acre than in mineral springs. The truth hurts, eh? How you can call yourself a republican is a mystery.. Oh wait- you know you can’t get elected if you don’t.


  28. Mr. Becker,

    No, it’s not blasphemy. It is our responsibility to question an opine about our government figures past and present, else we give up our freedom.

    I’m just curious, what else do you have on Senator Pittenger? Now that I’ve seen a crack in the glass, I want to see how far the crack goes.

  29. Land values in Mineral Springs lower that all the rest of Union County? NOT TRUE. There is plenty of land further south where land values are lower. Admit it Raines, you are a HIPO. Human in physique only. Kind of a cute way of saying that your brain isn’t engaged, don’t you think?

    Answer something for me Mark. Before white people came here, the land was without ownership, in the sense that we know ownership. Yet, it was land, full of all God’s wonderful works, right? Now, exactly how does imposing some sort of human ownership on that land, for millions of years without ownership and doing find, change the character of the land? Is God thrown out of the picture? Do the forces of nature that shaped the land lose their rights to further alter the land? Exactly what does this artificial dividing of the land do to the land? Nothing, you say? Ah, then land has a duel role, the God given role that it has always had, and now some new artificial role imposed by man.

    Is it blasphemy to say that if you do not own the land then do not get use to the view? Did man or God give us that view? Is it blasphemy to take a gift that God gave to all men and claim that only one of them has any rights relative to that piece of land because of the artificial dividing? Exactly what is man’s relationship to the land? When it becomes nothing more than a financial commodity, are we not denying the divinity of its creator?

    You say so much and yet you say so little. You claim that anything that man wants to do with land is justified if it makes the selling price increase. Don’t you think that is a dirty, filthy was to speak of a gift for our creator? Why don’t you put a price on your children’s heads and sell them too? You are half way there.

  30. Aubrey,

    You diatribe about how nobody owns land was touching. I bet you also think that nobody should own anything else, either. How about I take control of your microsoft stock, or duke power stock.. after all- isn’t it arrogant to think you should own a part of something so important?

    Guess what that philisophy is called? Communism.

    But you knew that already.

  31. BTW Aubrey, I didn’t say that EVERYWHERE in union county were acreage prices higher than mineral springs.

    however, I can say that prices in WESTERN union county towns, as well as unincorporated land in western union county, are much higher per acre than in mineral springs.

    about the only place with lower land prices would be mint hill, where 1/3 of the township is undevelopable because of the carolina heelsplitter scam.

  32. Aubrey,

    Are you saying the private property ownership should not exist?

  33. Joe Burgess,
    I am saying this. Land has a duel role in our lives. Land ownership is one part of that and it certainly should carry a lot of rights with it, or it means nothing. I grew up here when there was no such thing as a “Keep Out” sign. Fifty years ago, the attitude toward the land was so different from what it is today that you can barely recognize that you are in the same country. Today, land has become a financial investment for most people, and has lost the character that so many of us once understood it to have. To read the rantings of Mark Raines is to understand that stewardship of land is no longer considered a must, or even a necessary component of ownership. His writings are the rantings of a child who has no concept of common elements of life. As such, they are indeed blasphemy, if anything in your life is holy.
    Last week I was reading how large lumber companies who own land adjoining National Parks out west have started selling off square mile pieces to wealthy people who want their 640 acres of heaven. Lumber companies out there have served as stewards of the land for a long time and have done quite well at that. Their ownership of the land effectively greatly increased the size of those parks, like Glacier in Montana. Keep out sighs are going up on a lot of those sold tracts. The economics are simple, up to $30,000 per acre for land that will produce less that one-twentieth that amount over 20 years. But, the impact on the tourist industry is going to be devastating if these people can not be convinced to join in a stewardship program in the state that allows for public usage of private lands. Montana has no qualms in letting land owners know that the land has this duel nature. It is fundamental to the thinking that was introduced there by large ranchers. It is realistic in both ownership and stewardship terms.
    It is also realistic to step back and ask, where do the rights of ownership end? Nowhere? Welcome back to the jungle, a quick circular trip, don’t you think? Will Campbell, a great southern humanitarian and writer, once wrote a book, “Providence” that showed how history can be told with a piece of land being the only constant. He told of the people who lived on, owned, and had contact with that land over 300 years. You come away understanding that land has a permanent component that nothing else has. In “Gone With The Wind”, remember when the old man lifts up a hand full of soil and says that “this is the only thing that lasts.”
    A few years from now, someone else will live on this land and they will say, Aubrey who? or Joe who? But the tree that you protected from the ax today will give them welcomed shade. The garden that you composted today will grow their tomatoes. They will stub their toe on the same rock that you once cut your head on in a fall. In reference to the land, we are a link in a chain. We can choose to be a good link or a link that did not think of anything but themselves and destroyed the tree and failed to compost the garden.
    I own 3.17 acres here in Wesley Chapel. I love that I can grow my garden, build swings for my grandchildren, have my wood shop, and watch the animals that live and visit here. My father owned 50 acres once on Forest Lawn Drive, and the family owned 200 acres. It gave us life as farmers, warmth from wood to burn, a creek in which to play, and yes, an identity that we cherished. My father sold it in 1967 and used the proceeds, $20,000, to buy a home in Matthews and start a business that gave them livelihood until they died a couple of years ago.
    Ownership of land has served my family and myself well and I wish it for everyone. But, the people who lose respect for the land, for the great gift that it is, and for its permanence, the people who allow themselves to become so self centered that they make the arguments of a Mark Raines, these people are my sworn enemies, and will be until I can not breather another breath. They are a disgrace to their heritage and to that which gave them life and sustained them. Whatever it is that those people are, I am not.

  34. Mark Raines,
    That’s Comrad Aubrey to you, sir. You did not tell me how you liked the HIPO thing. I go to a lot of effort to tick you off and all that you can come up with is that I am a commie? Why don’t you answer my arguments? Remember the first time you met a girl that could drink you under the table? Never dated her again did you? Did you learn nothing? If all you got is a few inane responses like commie, RINO, and whatever, you started out under the table.

  35. Aubrey, you admit you own 3 acres of land- basically a postage stamp sized lot that isn’t worth the bother of subdividing.

    Thus you consider anyone who owns hundreds of acres to be a “disgrace” and you declare them your “sworn enemies”

    Why dont you admit the truth and just come out with it- you’re jealous. Anyone who still owns hundreds of acres of farmland in this area is worth 10s of millions of dollars. It’s like winning the lottery just because their family was lucky enough to settle in this area and remain farmers.

    It burns you up with envy. I understand. Maybe you’ll get over it someday.

  36. Aubrey,

    Well said again, and I agree with the view of the big picture over the course of time. My little piece of the country has already given me visions of the past and future as you illustrate. The piece of rope that the big double trunk oak in the front yard has grown around, the cow bones and the barbed wire just under the surface in the back yard, the small area I’m working to turn into open yard for my kids and the neighbors’ kid to play in all are part of the understanding you talk about. You sound a lot like my father, in your quest for the balance. The one phrase in your writing that would scare people (even others like you and if you’ll grant, like me) is “state that allows for public usage of private lands”.

    The values you talk about can’t be mandated by government. They come from morals, upbringing from family and positive influence from those that do understand what you speak of. My little lot of 9/10 of an acre is like a dream come true to me and my family after getting started in an HOA ran housing development with lots so close you could open you kitchen window and spit on your neighbors house. The appreciation and love of the blessing bestowed upon me and my family in that land leads me to want to ensure no one else can take away my ability to keep and use that land for their growth, shelter, and benefit the way God guides me.

    Protection of this God given right is what I strive for in such discussion and any related actions taken. I suspect that many in similar situations have the same motivation, but don’t hear the part you just explained. Instead they hear someone else trying to implement some form of control on another’s property, and from there deduce that if they can get away with forcing control on that guy, they can possibly and will eventually do it to me. I don’t know Mr. Raines’ background, where he comes from, what his views are of this. So of course I can not speak to his motivations on this, but it they are similar to mine then perhaps some of the back and forth jabs that grow out these disagreement are rooted in fundamental misunderstandings to begin with.

    Either way, cheers and God bless.

  37. Joe,

    If the most land you’ve ever owned is 9/10th of an acre, I’m sorry but you simpy cannot have any sort of empathy with farmers in this area who have owned hundreds of acres since the early 1900s, and worked the land with their blood, sweat, and tears, for literally poverty level income.

    Now those same farmers suddenly find their land worth tens of millions of dollars, and they also find people like you and Aubrey, on their tiny little lots, recently transplanted from some urban center, shouting about “open space, preserve the rural character at all costs!” (as long as the cost isnt yours, of course)

    In fact, you’re slapping the farmers in the face and telling them that YOU control their land. Your kind moved here just a few years ago and will use every legal trick in the book to keep farmers from developing their land, be it finding an endangered species of fungus in the dirt, or passing new “open space” rules or “smarth growth” agendas.

    Unfortunately North Carolina is one of the worst states in regard to property rights, so local zoning boards can get away with almost anything without worrying they’ll be held responsible. Even if some landowner get upset, farmers arent known for being wealthy and the bureaucrats know they can just spend the town coffers to outspend the farmer in court.

    And hey Mark D, why do you allow people like Aubrey to post things saying “I will fight landowners and Mark Raines to my dying breath and they’re a disgrace to their heritage” and yet censor my response to him? Is there any sort of logic to your censorship that I can rely on in the future?

    Editors Note: Mr. Raines, many times your posts wind up in the SPAM file (as do others). It occurs frequently when a user posts multiple comments or one after another. It is not a reflection on your content, but the software thinks your spamming the site. Internet robots spam blogs just like your in-box.

  38. Joe,
    How great to have a good conversation. I understand that in the context of the modern world, phrases like that do scare people. My point is that the state of Montana, which is as conservative as you can get, shows us a world that we lost along the way. We may never get back there, and probably will not. But, the program that they have, which is called “enduring stewardship”, I think, recognizes the truth about the duality of land. My wife and i have traveled much of Montana. Years ago, I got involved in an effort by cattle ranchers to keep land around the Missouri Breaks, basically arguing that the rancher ownership was preferable to state ownership from a public use standpoint. I only contributed money and a voice, but the ranchers have stayed off an attempt to increase the size of the state parkland of that stretch of the Missouri River, basically by proving that outsiders who used the land for recreation preferred the present situation, whereas state ownership would get environmentalists involved and restrict use.
    My sister-in-law is an environmental lawyer that works out of Bankok. Her group writes environmental law for third world countries. She spends a lot of time in places like Vietnam, China, Peru, Niger, India, and other countries that contract with them. Patti will flat tell you that the biggest impediment to solving most big environmental problem in the world is the private ownership of land. I have heard her say it many times. I know that argument, and I reject it, unconditionally for our country. But, I do not reject the concept that private ownership must include an understanding that the land is connected to other land, and on and on, and that unless you own a true island, then you better get ready for others to have a say in the way that land is used. In economics we have a capitalistic basis. That means of the three elements of production, labor, raw products, and capital, capital is dominant. That does not mean that you have a right to rape the land and have child labor, however. Private ownership is basic to the way that we use our land, but it is not absolute, and God help us, never will be.

  39. mark raines,

    Has anyone ever told you not to talk with your mouth open? You had me believing for a short period that you spoke from an informed perspective. If your read my post, you might have noticed that I attempted to understand the reason behind your position, which to a degree was still in support of. Additionally, if you had read Aubrey’s post you might notice that he is and come from one of those farming families you speak of.

    For your information, I only lived in Charlotte for 5 years. I spent the majority of my life growing up on my Grandma’s 100+ acre farm, my Dad’s 56 acre farm, and my Mom’s place boardering one many tobacco fields in Davidson county. From Western North Carolina mountains to the foothills in SC and the middle piedmont, I have lived and worked in the country. I’m no stranger to the blood, sweat, tears, and economic strife you seem to seem to consider yourself an expert in.

    I have worked hard for what I have and would not want to implement any kind of irresponsible control on any one else doing the same, and in no way indicated anything like that in my discussion with Aubrey. What you seem to miss in your rantings is balance. If you cherish your freedom in this great land of yours, you should realize a truism that Aubrey is attempting to illustrate. That is that freedom can not exist without responsibility. When that balance between the two is neglected (typically on the responsibility side) neither can continue to exist.

    I am still wholeheartedly in support in private property ownership rights there is no change in that. After having “grown up” discussions with Aubrey, I find that he and I not only have that in common, but that we also share the belief in individual responsibility as well. And that that is a necessary part of private property ownership. We may still differ on its implementation (how to ensure this responsibility is practiced). But that’s where truly healthy and productive political differences exist. Not through ill-informed jabs and accusations at one another. Arriving at the healthy level of such disagreements can only come from thoroughly detailed discussions and understanding of the reason for an opponents (for lack of better terms) point of view.

    I suggest if you want to accomplish good things for you and your fellow man in our society, that you work a little more diligently at opining from a more well informed platform, keep your mouth shut when your do not have the information necessary to speak intelligently, and be a little more open minded to discussion when those giving opposing views are doing so in a mature and informed way without pushing absurdities or inane ideas.

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