Veneer Environmentalism Strikes Again

After I introduced Senate Bill 434 in part – so Hickory could build a riverfront park with a riverwalk – it didn’t take long for the environmental lobby to light up the phones.

Right now – under state law – if a family buys a home on the river or lake, they have to maintain a 50-foot riparian buffer along the river. And, if they want to cut down a tree in the buffer so they can see the lake, well, forget about it.

In addition, when the state tells a family how to use the 50 feet of their property by the river or lake, that’s a ‘taking.’ The state just took part of the family’s property. And it’s a taking without compensation. If the DOT wants to build a road across private property it pays the land owner for a right-of-way. But the Department of Environment pays a homeowner nothing when it takes part of his property for a riparian buffer.

Even worse, the county is still going to send the family a property tax bill on that land. They can’t use it like they want. But they still have to pay property taxes on it.

After I introduced my bill, the first call I got was from a couple in northwest Hickory. They don’t live on a lake. They don’t have a riparian buffer. They believe people who live on lakes should.

But consider this: The couple does have a yard. And when there’s a storm, water runs off their yard, over the curb, into the gutter and down the street into a storm drain that runs into a pipe that empties into a nearby creek.

The water that runs off their yard ends up in the lake, unfiltered.

And that’s one more example of how veneer environmentalism creates false solutions. Saying riparian buffers cure water quality problems sounds good. It feels good. No one has a sacrifice except families who live on rivers or lakes. But it’s a solution based on politics not science.

It’s time to stop playing politics and start identifying the real sources of, say, nutrients in Lake Hickory. And using science to fix the problems. Veneer environmentalism and political solutions won’t do that.


Leave a Reply