My granddaddy used to say Floyd had zero population growth because "everytime a baby is born some guy leaves town."
He may have been right about the Town of Floyd. When I left the county in 1965, Floyd’s population was 435. When I came back in 2004, the population stood at 434.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the county where the population has grown by almost 50 percent in the last 15 years — most of it from urbanized Yuppies seeking a perceived solitude in the country.
You can tell where Floyd County’s growth comes from by counting the number of Land Rovers, Mercedes, Land Cruisers and the like on the streets nowadays.
When I wander into town this morning for breakfast at the Blue Ridge or a cup of coffee at Cafe del Sol I will no doubt encounter these invaders who descend each weekend like a plague of locusts — maps and real estate brochures in hand, ready to scoop up land at what they see as bargain basement prices.
Yet those prices continue to escalate at a rate that will soon make it all but impossible for many locals to continue living in Floyd County because they can no longer pay the taxes ot the higher prices that come from such growth.
An acre of land near the Blue Ridge Parkway recently sold for $40,000. That’s right: 40 grand for one acre of undeveloped dirt, rocks and trees. Farm land continues to fall under the greedy control of developers who see nothing but dollar signs in their eyes. We get letters and phone calls from a developer in Washington State who wants to buy out Carroll County farm.
We tell them we’re not interested but they keep coming back with higher offers. We cannot, unfortunately, expect any help from our elected leaders.
A year ago, the chairman of the county planning commission told me they wanted to see new regulations on subdivision development but nothing came of it. They, and the county supervisors, see development as money and the lust for money overcomes sound judgment.
Perhaps we have only ourselves to blame. Perhaps we shouldn’t talk so much about how good life is here in the hills.
Perhaps we should talk more about rough weather, wells that run dry, septic systems that back up, roads that need repair and a clueless government that can’t see the forest because they let developers cut down all the trees.
Perhaps it is too late. The word is out and the hoards are not just coming.
Hell, they’re already here.