In the biggest reflection of how business will be done in this new era of dedication to economic development as the County’s number one priority, the Count Commissioners voted 5-2 to rezone the Eno Economic Development District (EDD) for commercial use. This EDD was created about twenty years ago and has existed only in the deep layers of some nebulous future plan since then.

The many residents of this community have been coming to grips with the realization that their neighborhoods will be radically altered because of the surfacing of this once-vague concept. Commissioner Barry Jacobs summed up the historic nature of the vote when he reminded the five relatively new members of the Board that it is rare for them to “ram something through” over clear opposition from the citizens most affected. Alice Gordon joined him in opposing the rezoning.

I was on the County Planning Board for its deliberations on this issue and I found several facets of the rezoning to be sensible and practical. However I could not support the overall rezoning package primarily because it was being railroaded through without sufficient community understanding and support.

Valerie Foushee issued a chilling rebuttal to Jacobs’ and Gordon’s assertion that the decision was hurried when she offered the time-honored excuse of many who have decided not to do the hard work of engaging with the affected community to forge a plan that achieved the County’s goals while also respecting the community. She said that the BOCC has to think of the entire County and not just one area at a time. Ironically, she has been the latest standard-bearer for the neglected Rogers Road community.

We will see how the Eno area evolves. The water lines will be installed and businesses will begin to appear. If all goes well from the standpoint of traditional economic development, more tax revenue and some jobs will likely result.

If we accept that this kind of return cannot be achieved without sacrificing the quality of life in a community, then we are shaping Orange County’s future in a way that may add some money to the coffers but leave us feeling no more satisfied with our progress.