New warehouses next to Harris-Teeter at Waterside Crossing. A new Wal-Mart and Loweâ€™s. A new Birkdale-style housing development.
These projects are in the works for Denver, a place that Connie Zmijewski has called home for two years.
â€œIâ€™m passionate about this area,â€ said Zmijewski. â€œIâ€™m concerned about the growth in eastern Lincoln County,â€
These projects concern her greatly because she feels that right now, the sitting Lincoln County commissioners are approving everything thatâ€™s presented before them, whether the countyâ€™s planning board recommends the project or not.
â€œWeâ€™re not just planning for tomorrow but for future generations,â€ she said. â€œIf the planning isnâ€™t done right, then there isnâ€™t any way to correct it.â€
Many people vocalize their concerns by speaking at public hearings in front of county boards.
While Zmijewski did that at several community meetings regarding Loweâ€™s and Wal-Mart, she was also motivated to take action by applying to be on the countyâ€™s planning board.
â€œI felt there needs to be more diversity on the planning board,â€ she said. â€œI felt like I could add to the board due to my background and because thereâ€™s so much growth in the eastern part of the county. Itâ€™s like thereâ€™s a gold rush, or a rush to try and quickly develop the area.â€
The first step in the process to be on the planning board was for Zmijewski to fill out an application at the county zoning office.
According to Randy Hawkins, county zoning administrator, the application asks several questions.
â€œQuestions about a personâ€™s background are on there as well as asking the applicants why they want to be on the planning board,â€ he said. â€œThere is no official criteria for being on the board.â€
That fact was backed by county commissioner James â€œBuddyâ€ Funderburk, who is the overseer of the planning board.
â€œYou have to know a little something about whatâ€™s going on in the county,â€ he said.
Funderburk added that when there is a position to be filled on the board, names are gathered then presented to county commissioners for a vote.
Commissioners recently filled an at-large position on the board. Zmijewskiâ€™s name was one of a handful of people the board voted on but she wasnâ€™t appointed and now questions the process.
â€œI wasnâ€™t even given any kind of response to my application,â€ she said. â€œI wouldnâ€™t even have applied if I had known there wasnâ€™t an interview process.â€
When questioned about why Zmijewski wasnâ€™t called or interviewed, Funderburk said that sometimes commissioners do call the applicants.
â€œThatâ€™s if commissioners arenâ€™t familiar with an applicant,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s to get a better feel for why that particular person applied for a position.â€
Funderburk added that in Zmijewskiâ€™s case, commissioners saw her application.
â€œHer application was viewed by every commissioner because all of the applications were in their packets of information,â€ he said.
That answer provides little consolation for Zmijewski.
â€œA planning board, any planning board, needs to develop standards for a community,â€ said Zmijewski. â€œOur county commissioners feel that weâ€™re not worthy of really nice developments here.â€
She points to the recent Loweâ€™s project meeting between company officials and members of the east Lincoln community.
â€œFor Nicky Wagoner to say we donâ€™t have the demographics to support a store like they have in Ballantyne is outrageous,â€ said Zmijewski.
In the meantime, Zmijewski is left to continue to attend community meetings in eastern Lincoln County and voice her concerns over the glut of development coming to the county.
â€œI want county commissioners to know that Iâ€™m going to apply every year to be on the planning board,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™m not going away.â€
by Jon Mayhew