Sustainable Development is old news to leaders of Cleveland County, but what about its citizen's?

I’m sure at this point most of us have heard the often quoted phrase, “10% unemployment is the new normal“. I was not able to find anyone who actually said those exact words, however I did find one statement in my view that is close enough.

In October of 2010 Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, speaking at the 7th World Business Forum, stated “Even if  the U.S. economy manages to grow, it will be too slow to provide enough jobs needed and a high unemployment rate will be a new normal for Americans”.  (Click here to read source)

In a previous Red State post detailing how the LeGrand Conference Center, and the new Shelby Middle School are being constructed using Federal Stimulus money, County Manager David Dear was quoted as stating:   

“The county unemployment rate is currently 14.3%. Retail sales have continued to decline and local housing starts are currently very depressed. Despite declining revenues, this budget focuses on maintaining overall public expenditures at current levels.”  (Click here to read)

Cleveland County’s unemployment is 14%… and the new normal is “High” unemployment for Americans…really? I’m NOT OK with that.

In an interview with Jason Falls, newly elected Cleveland County Commissioner, Commissioner Falls made no bones about the need he sees for economic and job growth in Cleveland County. So what’s holding our county back? Why aren’t we growing?

At 14% unemployment, is ANY idea off the table?

The answer is yes. Cleveland County leadership, at least since 2005, is only interested in “sustainable growth.”

In 2005 42 of Cleveland County’s community leaders, including business and government, signed on to the UN’s agenda of “Sustainable Development“. I know that sounds wildly unbelievable, but I implore the reader to continue before you dismiss me out of hand.

According to the Cleveland County Land Use Plan of 2005 Cleveland County became a member of an EPA funded program called Sustainable Environment for Quality of Life or SEQL.This is from the About Section of SEQL’s website (click here to read)

“SEQL is an integrated environmental initiative for the 15-county metropolitan Charlotte region in North and South Carolina.

SEQL involves elected officials, local government staffs, business and industry groups, economic development groups and environmental stakeholder groups working together toward viable solutions to regional growth.

SEQL is regional in its vision and influence, but local in application.

SEQL promotes implementation of specific Action Items on Air Quality, Sustainable Growth and Water Resources and consideration of environmental impacts in decision-making at local and regional levels.

SEQL is funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Centralina Council of Governments in cooperation with Catawba Regional Council of Governments.”

The EPA and SEQL knew local elected officials would never sign on to something with “sustainable development” or EPA, in the title even in 2005. So SEQL cleverly “laundered their EPA funding” by setting up Centralina Council of Governments. Centralina Council of Governments then assists government and business leaders in Cleveland County to create the Cleveland County Land Use Plan, published on April 19th, 2005. (Click here to download)  

Before we go further please make note of this. A very significant declaration came out of the latest United Nations climate summit held in Cancun.

Martin Chavez, the Executive Director of ICLEI stated:

“For the first time in the history of climate negotiations, the United Nations has officially recognized the crucial roles of local governments in fighting climate change — as local governments are now identified by delegate nations as “government stakeholders”.

Note that SEQL , and ICLEI also use the term, Stakeholder. That is a very popular term within the UN’s sustainability agenda.

And that is only the first of MANY similarities between SEQL, ICLEI, the United Nations Agenda 21, AND Cleveland County’s Land Use Plan. Please print both and compare them for yourselves.

ICLEI-STAR Sustainable Community’s Index (click here)

Cleveland County Land Use Plan (click here)

On a separate note…does the Cancun declaration potentially mean that Shelby City Council members or County Commissioners could go and participate in official UN proceedings without the consent of our State or Federal legislature? 

There are a few parts of the Cleveland County Land Use Plan that make good sence, however for the most part, it reads like an economy killing manifesto written by Al Gore. 

In my brief reading of the Land Use Plan Open Space is discussed on 12 different pages. I enjoy Crowder’s Mountain as much as anyone, but bare in mind that for every OPEN space, there is one less JOB space. Bicycles and sidewalk space are discussed on five pages each, and coincidentally I’m sure, people riding bicycles and walking on sidewalks are on the cover of ICLEI’s STAR Guidelines. Housing built around mass transit are discussed in both. The Land Use Plan also states Cleveland County communities should be “walkable” in nature just as ICLEI’s STAR Guidelines mandate.

Here are the ISSUES facing Cleveland County as defined by the 42 author’s of the Land Use Plan:



Cleveland County residents value their rural lifestyles, their views, and their green space, and DON’T want to lose them.

Maintain lower-density residential development.

Keep the “rural” feel of the community—protect viewsheds and ensure that new development fits with older.

Limit industrial or commercial growth to existing towns or major corridors—but preserve the sense that one has “arrived” in a town by not having continuous development from town to town.

Include some type of design guidelines for commercial development to ensure that it “fits in” with its surroundings.

Green and open space is critical—preserve it in any new housing developments. Viewsheds should be preserved by buffering.


Development should occur FIRST in existing cities, towns, and villages.

A healthy mix of uses should be encouraged—people should be able to “live over the store.”  Mixed use can work in any community if it’s designed properly.

More urbanized areas should be walkable and connected—especially in communities with water and sewer.

Sidewalks are a must in more urbanized areas, and in new subdivisions in towns.

Multi-family development is appropriate for all communities if it’s in an area with water/sewer and is designed to fit in with the environs.

Parks, greenways, trails, and civic space should be included in urban and village planning.

Our towns and villages should not be simply extensions of highway sprawl, but should have identifiable “gateways” or perhaps even greenbelts.



Commercial development should have a sense of permanency—it should not look “thrown together” or “temporary”. It SHOULD fit in with the image we want our community to project.

Traditional “strip” development is not preferred, but development that shares driveways is a possibility IF the development is well designed.

Commercial development should not be “strung out” along the highway but clustered in nodes around major intersections.

Provide some type of proposal to handle big-box stores—either a plan to handle their abandonment or incentives to re-use them.

Signage should be better regulated.

Consideration should be given to regulating outdoor lighting so that it lights what it’s meant to, but doesn’t create “light pollution.”



Areas suggested for industrial growth include:

Northwest Shelby

The I-85 Corridor

The Highway 18 Corridor

The Kings Mountain/Shelby Corridor

At selected sites along the new Shelby Bypass Grover

The residents of Grover are particularly interested in redevelopment rather than greenfields sites.

Infrastructural improvements designed to facilitate industrial recruitment should be actively investigated and implemented. [As long as it is LIGHT Industrial, read further down]

Industrial development should be sufficiently buffered, landscaped, and otherwise regulated so that it does not negatively impact adjoining uses.

Light industry is preferred over heavy industry, which is perceived as being bad for the environment.

In Upper Cleveland County, the preference for industrial uses is for smaller, low-traffic type uses rather than one or two major employers. In Upper Cleveland County, buffering is particularly important. 

The one place in Upper Cleveland County where commercial/industrial development should perhaps be encouraged is along NC18 between Fallston and Belwood.



There is a sense that residents would rather not have smaller (10-15 home) subdivisions on cul-de-sacs that are one-way-in/one-way-out and spaced out along the highway—they would rather have larger (or even small) developments that are connected to the fabric of the community.

Residential development in all areas of the county ideally should reflect its context—in rural areas, that may mean that larger, non-“family” development is buffered so that rural viewsheds are retained.

Multi-family development should take place in city, town, or village centers, and not in rural areas (where there is no sewer to support it).

Multi-family development may be appropriate along the US 74 Corridor where it may be a form of transit-oriented development.

Manufactured housing will probably always be with us as a form of affordable housing.



There is a need for a greenway network in Cleveland County.

Open space and rural landscapes must be preserved.

Civic open space is important—parks, trails, greenways, etc.

Regulations that control clear-cutting are needed.

A Countywide open space plan should be created.



Since sewer treatment plants encourage development, careful attention must be given to where they go.



NC 18 is a potential corridor to link to I-40 and it should be planned—in accordance with the caveats listed above for rural character, commercial, and industrial development.

Upper Cleveland County should keep its two-lane road network so that additional development isn’t encouraged—although the roads should be made safer with wider shoulders, etc.

One-way-in/one-way-out residential and commercial development is not desirable.

Connectivity is preferred, where feasible.



Code enforcement is an issue now, and added regulations will increase the perceived enforcement gap.

Commercial properties need code enforcement just as much as residential properties do.

Government should provide sufficient resources to meet the code enforcement needs.

Conditional use zoning is needed to give the County better control on how development takes place.

Now I do not claim to be an expert when it comes to “town planning”  however, does this plan send a message to potential companies wanting to relocate that Cleveland County covets them, or does it say KEEP OUT?

We now know that NCDENR has adopted (click here to read) the UN’s version of sustainable development. We now know that Cleveland County is a member of the EPA funded SEQL, and SEQL has links on their website to ICLEI and LA21, or Local Agenda 21 (click here to see). And we now know that SB 897 created the Sustainable Communities Task Force, and that NCDENR, listed as an SEQL partner as well, will be the North Carolina State agency that will drive the “sustainability agenda”.

My question is simple:


To my freedom loving neighbor’s in other states, please investigate to see if your town has submitted a similar land use plan, to a similar EPA front group in your region.

To my freedom loving neighbors in Cleveland County; or North Carolina, have powerful interests been hindering growth in our counties, based on the biggest scientific hoax of modern times? 

If so what are WE prepared to do about it?

If there are residents of Cleveland County who want to connect with others who oppose job killing policies like these, and who also do NOT care if you are a Republican or Democrat, shoot me an email at [email protected]