Gates County ‘doublespeak’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Just about the hottest topic in Gates County right now is that of the development that is taking place at a rapid rate in the northeast sector.

Letters to the editor, conversations by phone and face-to-face statements and angry citizens appearing to vent their feelings at meetings of the board of commissioners have me convinced that not everyone in the county is for growth, and those who are want &uot;sustainable&uot; growth.

Mr. John Willey, a life-long resident of the county, recently posed the question &uot;Just who’s keeping score here?&uot; He pointed out that with the latest proposed development, North Gates, the county is caught in a &uot;Catch 22.&uot;

He asked what the cost effectiveness and physical impact on the county would be if the developer was allowed to place two units on each of the 60 acres as he is proposing to do.

Willey and others are particularly concerned over the situation with the county’s schools. I have to admit, even though I do not have children in the school system, that is also a great concern of mine.

Not every one of those home sites proposed for the North Gates development is going to have a child, but a high-density subdivision could potentially burden the county’s school district with new students while creating a funding deficit.

There is a joint meeting of the board of commissioners and the school board coming up. That’s good because there apparently seems to be a failure in communications between the two entities. In a letter from Dr. Robert F. Hahne, superintendent of public schools in the county, to County Planner Traci B. White, Dr. Hahne states that the change in the population location due to the North Gates subdivision would not justify a relocation of existing schools.

He also said that while the county does not wish to acquire a site in the proposed subdivision, they do need to appropriate funds for a 12-room classroom extension at Buckland Elementary School. That, he explains, is to pick up the expected 172 new students generated by North Gates and three other un-named proposed subdivisions. Is this double-talk or what?

I don’t know about you, but I’m wondering, along with Mr. Willey, just who is keeping score in Gates County? How many homes have already been approved that we don’t even know about? Have we already stuck our necks out even further than we realize, and we could be facing some interesting situations with school overpopulation? Several approvals for development have apparently already been made. How many children are coming with the buyers of those homes?

The real concern is just how much of an overload do we have in the school system. How many temporary classrooms (trailers) are we using in the entire school system?

Mark Biberdorf, county manager, insists that we don’t have overloaded schools. I’m confused… why are we using trailers for classrooms if there is not an overload of children in the system.

Is Gates County lacking in communication between the county commissioners, the planning board and the school system?

As citizens of Gates County, we must ask the commissioners if they are aware of what we, the people, need in this county.

In Durham County, N.C., and five other unnamed counties, they have requested impact fees and land transfer fees. Why can Gates County not jump on that bandwagon? Are we still assuming that someone will come along and take care of all this for us?

The point is; the County Commissioners need to become proactive instead of reactive, and there has to be greater communication between the school board, the commissioners, the planning department and the people of Gates County.

I urge you; the citizens affected by all this, to attend the next meeting of the board of commissioners at 9 a.m., Monday, May 2, at the courthouse in Gatesville.