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Letters to the Editor for 9/15/08

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Opry project destined to fail

A Gazette editorial made some important points in promoting the potential for tourism in our area, but in spite of Mr. Garrett’s praise and despite the fact that it is an exciting idea, there is no evidence to suggest that a Carroll Opry would succeed.

Learn from others’ mistakes: within the past year there have been at least two opry failures not far from Carroll.

In Roanoke Rapids, N.C., plans to build a Branson-type tourist destination began with an opry managed by Dolly Parton’s brother that closed almost before it opened.

(A Raleigh newspaper quoted a citizen as saying “It’s a joke. We’re the laughingstock of the state.”)

In Sevierville, Tenn., the Smoky Mountain Opry is now the Smoky Mountain Palace, featuring the “Cirque du Chine.” The likelihood of success is even less now than it was for these ventures, with high gas prices (Marshall Lineberry predicts $6 per gallon gas by year’s end) and a depressed economy reducing tourism.

These failed opries are closer to population centers and have far more interstate traffic than Carroll County’s Exit 14.

They were managed by operators with far more business experience than that of the Mended Wings promoters. Mended Wings’ lack of experience was apparent to the government in Mount Airy, its first-choice location.

City Manager Don Brookshire stated that after Mended Wings failed to attract private investors, they asked the city to build a $6.6 million theater and were turned down because they provided no business plan or evidence that they have a relevant business history.

Tourism has a great deal of potential for economic development in the Carroll area. It is essential, though, not to believe in something just because you would like it to be true.

Though the potential payoff from an opry success is tempting, history and an objective evaluation suggest that it is the wrong venture by the wrong people at the wrong time.

Let’s promote the Blue Ridge Music Center, Fridays at the Rex Theater, and other local attractions. And let’s be open to new possibilities, but let us also be prudent.

Mike Goldwasser

Hillsville

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Law could set bad precedent

The new subdivision regulations being considered by Carroll County appear to be opening the possibility of a new precedent being set.

That precedent would be giving government the ability to set the quality of an improvement to be added to private property on which the government has the right to tax, while the landowner has the expense to maintain.

Indeed, the private roads in a recreational subdivision (or whatever is to be its replacement) are totally on private property and therefore appear to me to be a private driveway.

Does the county want to specify everyone’s private driveway to their homes?

Is it a good idea to allow the government to set the construction quality of private property that they tax?

What might follow is the government setting qualities of private home construction down to fit and finish so that the tax base can be expanded. The potential here is to rule out home ownership to only the few well-off persons.

Streets in standard subdivisions are deeded to the county upon filing the approved plat. The whole county shares in maintenance of these roads and does not collect tax on them.

We need to leave the construction quality of private driveways to the free market.

Fire and liability insurance companies who underwrite these dwellings need to determine their risk of loss based on the probability of getting firefighters and EMS to the scene and thus set rates based on this accessibility.

Published legal opinion in another state has said that when the government takes control of what can or cannot be done on a segment of someone’s private property, the government must purchase that land and remove it from the tax rolls.

Tom Bell

Fancy Gap