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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Charles M. Lowe, March 20, 1975. Interview B-0069. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Consolidation sparked tensions between urban and rural areas

The issue of consolidation drew out tensions between Charlotte urbanites and rural North Carolinians in surrounding areas. Lowe describes how he convinced even reactionary rural residents to acknowledge Charlotte's importance in maintaining their quality of life. He thinks that these county residents are resisting change but will eventually accommodate consolidation efforts.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Charles M. Lowe, March 20, 1975. Interview B-0069. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

MOYE:
You think there are a lot of, there's an antagonism between a lot of the people who live in the county and the city government or leadership or chamber? Or, is it just sort of small town versus the big city?
LOWE:
Well, it's a strange conflict. It really is. If you go out in rural Mecklenburg, and it's hard to find rural Mecklenburg today, and the small towns and you talk to them, they will tell you quickly that they love their life and their way of doing. It's slower, and they don't want anything out of Charlotte. They don't need it and so forth. And, yet, you talk to those same people and you say, "Well, let me ask you a question. Say, what would you be doing if their was no Charlotte?" They'd think a bit and say, "I don't know." I say, "Well, let me tell you. You'd still be raising corn or cotton or wheat or or cattle whatnot, because you'd be in a rural area. While you don't like the city of Charlotte, you have a very pleasant problem. The $50 an acre farm land that your father or grandfather or your greatgrandfather bought and raised cotton on is now becoming urban land worth a thousand, two thousand, three thousand, five thousand dollars an acre. Sure, you can't farm it and pay taxes on it, but you have a pleasant problem. Do you sell off all of it, do you sell off part of it. If you want to farm, you have to go somewhere where the land is cheaper. I admit this to you. I understand you don't like to lose your roots, but, at the same time, it's making you a very wealthy person. You have to accept this, and you have to pay taxes just like if you bought stocks or you bought anything that appreciated in value where the Lord has blessed you. You do have to pay more taxes, and things change. They don't stay the same, and you must realize this. Now, if you want your taxes to stay the same or go down, you've got to go to a county where there's plenty of land, where it's losing population, where it needs less services, and you must realize this fact. Then, you can afford to farm it, you can afford to pay the taxes, and you don't have any of these problems that you have in a rapidly growing area."
MOYE:
So, you see it more as sort of the general problem of a growing area, not necessarily something that the city government or some of the city interests have done specifically? I've heard some complaints about the perimeter zoning, and, of course, there was the big todo about the water and sewer and some other things.
LOWE:
That's part of it, sure, human nature being what it is. Let me put it in this perspective for you. The pattern of human nature is, one, reluctance to accept change, finally accepting it, and, in the final analysis, embracing it. This is true of all of us. I mean, when I was a boy, I didn't want to wear shoes. Well, I got a little older and I got interested in girls and I wanted to wear shoes. Then, I wanted more shoes. And, then, I wanted them polished, then, I wanted to be in style. This is what you do in life. You change as you go along. It's a slow process. It's a gradual process. It's a process of evolution, not revolution, in my judgment.