Needing a change in government

Union County Pulse

State Auditor Beth Wood recently reported that N.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler’s department failed to fine propane plants, dispensing sites and other facilities that mishandled the highly flammable gas.

By failing to act, Troxler cost the state’s public schools as much as $2 million in fine receipts, and concurrently, suggested to the propane companies that he doesn’t expect them to obey the law. But Troxler’s job is to enforce state laws and regulations as they are written.

Troxler says he wants to create an atmosphere where the state works with industry to assure the safe handling of propane and not just be the bad cop who comes in and fines folks.”

I have personally dealt with Troxler and the department’s attorney in charge, Assistant Commissioner David McLeod on more than one occasion concerning laws pertaining to agritourism. This is what I was told by Mr. McLeod in an email dated February 21, 2008.

“To follow up on our telephone conversation of last week, I believe you are correct in your interpretation of the General Statutes that agritourism activities are included in the definition of bona fide farm purposes, and are thus exempt from county zoning ordinances. As we discussed, the purpose for the farm exemption from zoning ordinances is to ensure that farms would not be zoned out of existence as more non-farm residential and commercial development moves into rural areas. GS 153A-340 exempts property used for bona fide farm purposes from county zoning ordinances, and the definition of bona fide farm purposes references the definition of agriculture in GS 106-581.1, which includes agritourism. Agritourism is defined in GS 99E-30.”

This is what McLeod told Union County Weekly in a piece three years ago, which totally contradicts what he had written to me in his email.

“Maybe if (Marsh) was holding just a small, Sunday rodeo, but when you have an advertised event where you have hundreds of people, where you sell food, that changes things, McLeod said. At that point, it becomes a special event, something where the county has to make a decision about monitoring and regulating. The state’s not going to step in and keep track of that; it’s a local thing. the agritourism exemption doesn’t limit event size- it’s a gray area requiring counties and courts to make judgment calls, McLeod said.”

Remember what you have just read, McLeod stated in his email to me that agritourism activities are exempt from county zoning ordinances, he then changes horses in the middle of the stream and says, “the county has to make a decision about monitoring and regulating.” He then makes the statement that there is a gray area.

There is no gray area, had the General Assembly wanted a specific number inserted into the law, it would have been defined. Attorneys have always believed the general public is extremely ignorant in comprehension of written law, and they are taught very well in law school on how to manipulate your thought process into following theirs.

I like Steve Troxler as a person, but he is not performing the job people of NC elected him for. This job was to stand up for the rights, by law, concerning the citizens of the state that elected him. He is what I call an excellent career politician; this is an elected official who is very good at kissing the babies, and shaking the hands of his voting citizens, the ones that can keep him in his figurehead position. Keep a politician away from all controversial issues, have a staff that only allows him (or her) to look as though they are performing positively in the eyes of their voters, and you will have a politician that death will be the only defining factor of their tenure.

Reid Phifer


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