Editorial: Timber clearing not a pretty site

Published 10:19 am Thursday, January 20, 2022

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It’s been an argument since the beginning of time.
It’s my land, so I can do with it as I please.
On the other hand, there are neighbors. Can you do with your land as you please no matter the consequences to your neighbors?
Cavemen probably had this argument. “Uggh. You put rock that block my sun.”
Reply: “Uggh. My cave. My rock. You shut up.”
The result is neighbors who don’t like each other.
I remember back in the 1970s when the local sheriff’s department found several acres of marijuana growing on a man’s land. No, it wasn’t his marijuana, the man said, but that was none of their business and neither was what was being grown on his land.
The sheriff’s department seized the marijuana, but made no arrests.
These arguments over one’s right to do as they please with their own land eventually led to what we know as zoning today, our government saying what is appropriate for what piece of land. Like those cavemen, the issue today is as important and controversial as it was then.
And while I respect landowner’s rights, I also know that people and businesses – especially businesses – can’t be trusted to do the right thing. They do what brings in the most profit. To hell with neighboring properties.
The issue is playing out in Davie County right now, with the residents of the Southwood subdivision near the Davie Community Park living with the consequences. Owners of property that surround that subdivision have removed the timber, leaving stumps and brush. What neighbors once looked at as woods – a natural buffer and naturally calming neighbor – now looks like a wasteland, the opposite of calming.
It doesn’t help that this “wasteland” also faces the entrance to the county’s new park. It’s an ugly site, and folks – even visitors from other counties – leave with a not-so-heartwarming feeling about the county they just visited.
But remember, these property owners have the right to sell the timber from their land.
Could they have cleared the land to make it more pleasing to th eye?
Sure, but it would have cost them money.
Could they have left a wooded buffer around the subdivision and in front of the park entrance?
Sure, but it would have cost them money.
There’s no easy answer here, and I sure don’t have the answer.
Property owners have rights. Elected officials have grappled with this issue for years. They use zoning as a means to try to appease both sides. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
For the ugly issue at the entrance of the park and around the subdivision, our elected officials are right to remain silent. While it would have been nice had the area been cleared to make it more pleasing to the eye, that isn’t required.
Maybe just look at the bright side.
It makes for superb rabbit habitat.
– Mike Barnhardt