Smog covered downtown Asheville on July 21, 2008. A Code Orange air quality alert was issued for most of Western North Carolina, especially mountain elevations. Photo compliments of the Asheville Citizen-Times.
It is all about the timing.
In November 2008 when Asheville’s haze has dissipated and the state has stopped issuing air quality warnings, Jim Anthony, founder and President of the Cliffs Communities, Inc will begin selling land in his newest resort, The Cliffs at High Carolina. This steep slope mountain development encompasses 3,200 acres and is the largest land project in Buncombe County. Homesites will be priced from around $500,000 to more than $2 million.
A thriving community…in a setting like no other. Years ago, when the Cliffs founder Jim Anthony first set foot on this land, he knew he was experiencing something extraordinary. Hiking along the ridges, he encountered high mountain meadows, natural mountain springs, and tumbling waterfalls. As he inhaled the fresh mountain air and felt the cool summer breezes, he was also mesmerized by the 360-degree views.
Mr. Anthony’s memories are true. A long time ago, he would have breathed Western North Carolina’s clean air and enjoyed the region’s stunning vistas but today, summer smog clouds the landscape and is a major health hazard.
How serious is Western North Carolina’s air quality? Critical, according to North Carolina lawmakers and environmental experts. On January 30, 2006 Attorney General Roy Cooper filed a suit on behalf of the citizens of North Carolina against the Tennessee Valley Authority. In his press release Mr. Cooper stated that “TVA’s pollution is making North Carolinians sick, damaging our economy and harming our environment.”
During the course of the trial this summer in U.S. District Court in Asheville, Bill Cecil, Jr. president and CEO of the Biltmore Company addressed the court about the issue of air pollution. He stated that the region’s poor air quality is threatening travel and tourism. Mr. Cecil said that during summer months Biltmore visitors cannot see Mt. Pisgah and on some days the smog reduces visibility to less than 3 miles.
It is unlikely that Judge Thornburg's findings, which are pending, will affect change. Duke Energy is constructing a new coal-burning plant in nearby Rutherford County. This facility along with others in North Carolina and those operated by the TVA will continue to release millions of tons of carbon dioxide waste into Western North Carolina's air.
Western North Carolina residents can see the contaminated haze and they understand the medical significance of a Code Orange day. The question is, will High Carolina purchasers be warned of the risks before they sign their contracts?
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