Commissioners delay Parkside action; Stanley, Ramsey received $2,100 from developer

Commissioners delay Parkside action; Stanley, Ramsey received $2,100 from developer-attachment0

After a closed session earlier today, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners decided to delay acting on reacquiring the Parkside land until after Aug. 25, when a summary judgment in a lawsuit by George Pack’s heirs is expected. Also, election records reveal that Parkside developer Stewart Coleman and his employees have donated $1,500 to the re-election campaign of commissioner Bill Stanley and $600 to that of Chairman Nathan Ramsey; both commissioners have defended the controversial project.

In a brief announcement after the two-hour closed session, Ramsey read a statement of the board’s position:

“There will be a summary judgment in the case on Aug. 25 in the lawsuit of the Pack heirs, and we will wait and see what the outcome of that case is,” Ramsey said. “We will continue with all parties to look for a solution to this case. We received legal advice from our counsel about all options, including condemnation [eminent domain], and we are restricted by North Carolina law not to pay in excess of fair-market value.”

The project has drawn controversy following the sale of public parkland in late 2006 to Coleman, who plans to build a nine-story condominium building on top of that and a larger, neighboring piece of land (containing the Hayes-Hopson building) that he also owns. Coleman originally paid the county $322,000 for the land. It has attracted a firestorm of controversy, with Asheville City Council unanimously condemning the sale. Protesters and activists have asserted that Coleman benefited from a backroom deal, and a large magnolia tree on the former parkland (which would be cut down if Parkside came to be) has become a rallying point for daily protests and vigils.

Questioned by reporters after the meeting, Stanley denied that the donations from Coleman and his employees affected his votes.

“Those checks came in the mail. It doesn’t change what I say or how I vote,” Stanley, a Democrat, said, also indicating he opposed the possibility of using eminent domain to get the property back and still believed the original sale to Coleman had been a good deal.

Ramsey also said the donations played no role in his positions. He too has previously indicated that he does not support using eminent domain to gain the property back, partially because a court would decide what amount the county would have to pay Coleman for the property.

“I haven’t voted any differently than any of the other commissioners,” Ramsey, a Republican, said. “We’re all on the same page: We don’t want the taxpayers to get stuck footing the bill” for reacquiring the land.

Earlier in the week, Vice Chair David Gantt said that he was in favor of purchasing the Parkside property soon, noting that “it’s time to get this nightmare behind us.” Gantt also said the county had offered Coleman $4 million for the Hayes-Hopson building and the former parkland — but Coleman wants $4.5 million.

Today, he said, “The summary judgment may change some of complexities of where we’re at, and we felt it was important to get more information from our partners. We’re limited by state law to pay fair market value for any parcel of the property. So we’re going to have to continue our talks and look for other partners.”

He then added, “My position [on purchasing the property] hasn’t changed, but it takes three people on the board” to take such an action.

Commissioner Carol Peterson said after the closed session that she still didn’t regret her original vote, though she added that due to facts that have come to light since, she does favor getting the property back.

“Where I am now is that we should wait for the judgment on the lawsuit and getting all the people together to play nice — but there are a lot of people to bring to the table,” she said.

Peterson said she didn’t favor using eminent domain except as a last resort.

“There’s no control over the amount of money we’d have to spend; it has to do with the expectations of the property,” she said. “I haven’t decided what that amount is and I don’t think anyone [knows]. I’m not much on unknowns.”

As for what the board could do before Aug. 25, she simply said, “Well, discussion is always good.”

Governments are generally hesitant to use eminent domain, Charles Szypszak, an associate professor of public law and policy at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government and an expert on property law, said.

“It’s not very popular, and governments are very reluctant to use it,” he told Xpress. “But the law allows them [governments] to take land for recreational purposes, though the fair-market price will actually be set by the Superior Court.”

In that process, he said, the county would name what it thought was a fair price, “while the owner would call their experts to say it’s worth this much, then the court would decide.”

That the county had previously sold Coleman the land, he said, “doesn’t matter, though the value may have changed since the county sold it, and the court would have to take that into account when it set a fair-market value.”

Still, while unpopular, eminent domain is very hard to stop, if a municipality chooses to go that route.

“Someone can try to contest it, but it takes very extreme circumstances. The only way you can stop it is to prove there’s a case of fraud — and that’s very, very rare,” he noted.

Here’s a video of the commissioners’ announcement:

— David Forbes, staff writer

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80 thoughts on “Commissioners delay Parkside action; Stanley, Ramsey received $2,100 from developer

  1. Gordon Smith

    Thanks for reporting this, Xpress! Special thanks for the links to the fundraising reports. I’d like to point out that Tom Israel, a Coleman acolyte and partner, donated $300 to Bill Stanley. Wallace Hyde, who sold the Hayes and Hopson building to Coleman donated $200.

    Lou Bissette, who represents Coleman, donated $300 to Ramsey. Tom Israel gave him $300, too.

  2. Gordon Smith

    Oops, I guess that’s what the article meant by “Coleman and his employees”…

  3. William P Miller

    It’s often the same old, same old. Follow the money trail. VOTE THESE DEVELOPER WATER-CARRIERS O U T !
    Stanley, Ramsey, and Peterson, in particular. They do not have the people’s interests at heart, only the developers.

  4. So donations to a campaign are now considered bribes?
    In the interest of quid pro quo, I wonder how many enviro-weenies donated to the campaigns of those who are opposed to Parkside?

  5. Gordon Smith

    Who said bribes, Thunder Pig? Though I’m almost certain you’d agree that money can influence people.

    As we went through during the Bill Russell run for City Council –

    Those who donate to particular candidates do so because they feel that those candidates will best serve their interests. Those who donate are the core constituents of that candidate.

    Stewart Coleman and his clan felt that Ramsey and Stanley would represent them best – and they were right!

  6. Jeff

    He he… Hey ThunderPig, I got your “enviro-weenie” RIGHT HERE. : )

    I kind of like that. It has a nice ring.

  7. Tigerswede

    Ok, who is posting with Gordon’s name? That last post was way too logical and respectful to be the real Gordon!

  8. $300 is unlikely to influence someone in favor of a multimillion dollar project.

    The blame lies not with Coleman but with the commissioners.

    The property is pretty much unretrieveable now. Let’s move on.

  9. I was mocking you, Gordon.

    Financial contributions to a campaign are a form of free speech since they are our representatives, and speak for us…we give to those we judge most likely to speak as we would, or would be most effective in opposing someone we do not want speaking for us at all.

  10. tatuaje

    The property is pretty much unretrieveable now.

    uhh, no it’s not…. read the article again, Ralph…

    Not only is it retrievable, but there’s several ways to go about getting it back….buying it back, eminent domain, etc…if nothing else, just read the last 2 sentences…

    are you even following this story? or are you just once again being contrary for the sake of it?

  11. I read “very, very rare” … I agree the property should not have been sold but why should we taxpayers have to foot the bill for getting it back?

    The county commissioners have a lot of explaining to do but I do not see how they can fix this now.

  12. Jim Shura

    Thunderpig wrote:

    “Financial contributions to a campaign are a form of free speech since they are our representatives, and speak for us…we give to those we judge most likely to speak as we would, or would be most effective in opposing someone we do not want speaking for us at all.”

    I’d be interested to know if you really think money freely given is a form of free speech. I’ve heard the high courts make that argument once and I am still saddened and mystified and resigned to unidentifiable corruption.

  13. Yes, I believe it. That is why I beleive McCain-Feingold an abomination and anathema to the US Constitution.

    Of course, the 527’s emerged to allow money an even greater influence on politics.

    Money is a storage battery of one’s work effort that benefits all mankind.

    Those who benefit humanity the most, ten to receive more money for their efforts.

    I believe here should be no limit on financial contributions given to candidates by any one person.

    If I have a million dollars that i want to give to Obama or McCain or Paul or whoever, then I should be able to do that.

    Just as George Soros has given over $30 million dollars to 527’s dedicated to electing Obama, I should, and anyone else for that matter should be able to give any amount to any candidate running for any office.

    I view money as a good thing, and paper money the best of a good thing because it allows wealth to be portable. Wealth is a reward for providing a service that pleases your fellow man.

  14. Gordon Smith

    “Those who benefit humanity the most, ten to receive more money for their efforts.”

    Say huh? This means George Soros is, in your opinion, benefitting humanity and that Mother Teresa didn’t.

    A person’s wealth has no direct correlation to their morality. If it did, then the internet porn kings would be getting canonized at alarming rates.

    A government by the rich and for the rich is certainly not what the founders intended.

  15. Actually, Gordon, Mother Teresa raised a lot of money during her life and is still doing it in death … according to Catholic World News, her order “… is now at work in 133 countries, with more than 4,000 nuns from 80 different
    nationalities.” They raise millions of dollars a year.

    And that’s good, that money goes to benefit the poor, destitute and desperate.

    George Soros’ money, on the other hand, goes to things like MoveOn.Org … and, if you played your cards right, probably Scutiny Hooligans could belly up to the trough, too.

    Yes, money does not relate to morality, but money can be used for good also and it’s a whole lot easier to get your message out if you are properly funded.

    Like the current presidential campaign, both parties have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars and what’s been accomplished?

    Let’s give that money, instead, to Mother Teresa’s order. To the two candidates, how about $10 a day allowance and a box lunch daily, and an admonishment: “You want to lead? Fine, let’s see some REAL leadership as you win the presidency WITHOUT additional funding from us, the people. And, by the way, if you win we expect to be reimbursed for all those box lunches.”

    I am not totally against public funding of elections, however. Let’s give them two cookies each in their box lunches.

  16. tatuaje

    I read “very, very rare

    But your taking that out of context…it’s very, very rare to “prove there’s a case of fraud”.

    Now, it would be very hard indeed to prove the county was trying to take the land for dubious reasons or such…
    “very, very rare” doesn’t mean that eminent domain has a slim chance of failing, it means it has a slim chance of failing due to fraudulent behavior on the municipalities part…..
    BIG difference…

    but why should we taxpayers have to foot the bill for getting it back?

    I agree…we, the taxpayers, are getting a raw deal. Which is one of the reasons why eminent domain, IMHO, is the best recourse left open to us. The county will pay fair market value, which has certainly gone up since the “sale”, but at least it won’t be the 250%+ that Coleman is trying to extort from US….

    If someone swindles $5 from ya Ralph, would you…

    A. let him have it?
    B. at least get $3 back?
    C. give him another $5?

    Seems to me answer B. makes the only logical sense, and that’s without even considering the fact that we’re not talking about $5, but our friggin’ park!

  17. I do not disagree with you about it being our park (George Pack’s wishes should be honored). But eminent domain won’t work, it’s a slippery slope with an immense amount of resistance against it. I suspect Coleman could then sue (and would) and that in the best case, even if the county won, there would be tremendous legal fees and years of court cases. Again, the people, that’s us, foot the bill.

    Here’s the real problem: the county commissioners, when they recently instituted zoning in our county, went against the express vote AGAINST zoning by the people of this county. If they are willing to do that, do you think one little magnolia tree (which I do not believe is even a native plant to this area) is going to faze them?

    The question you need to be asking is ‘What will they do to us next?

  18. okay, okay… I checked, magnolias are native to this area, albeit not as common as in, say, Mississippi, “the Magnolia State.

    What is alien here are our local politicians.

  19. typo police say there should be closed quotes above and ask the moderators again when we get the ability to edit our posts?

  20. Gordon Smith

    The “Stop Parkside Through Eminent Domain” petition has over 6,500 signatures on it.

    ‘The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says ‘nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.’

    “Explicit in the just compensation clause is the requirement that the taking of private property be for a public use; the Court has long accepted the principle that one is deprived of his property in violation of this guarantee if a State takes the property for any reason other than a public use. The question whether a particular intended use is a public use is clearly a judicial one, but the Court has always insisted on a high degree of judicial deference to the legislative determination.”

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment05/14.html

    Nothing says public use like public park land.

  21. Gordon:

    I said nothing about morality, only benefitting humanity. And, it is quite possible Mother Theresa has raised more money than Soros…she just made a conscious choice not to keep any of it.

    Money is neither moral nor immoral, although it is one of the best inventions of humankind.

    Internet Porn kings have pleased their fellow man, and have been rewarded for it, irregardless of my moral judgment on their activity.

    As to what the Founding Fathers intended, a goodly number of them WERE wealthy, and I have argued with plenty of lefties who are under the impression they wanted to create such a system.

    Ralph, tatuaje, et al:

    If rhere was a title search performed on a deed, and there were no restrictions found, then the land is his free and clear no matter what anyone else says.

    If the wish to keep the land public forever was never placed on the title of the land, then there is no such restriction, and your claims that the land is public forever has no legal weight despite Pack’s intentions more than a century ago.

    If wishes were fishes…

  22. Forgive me for joining the conversation late – I hope there is still room at the tea-table.

    Ralph:

    “$300 is unlikely to influence someone in favor of a multimillion dollar project.”

    No – but $300 from you, your brother, your lawyer, your sister, your mother’s former boyfriend, and everyone else in the family tree tends to add up to a considerable amount. Coleman was obviously stacking the chips by having whomever he could donate as much as they could under their own name but undoubtedly with his money.

    “The blame lies not with Coleman but with the commissioners.
    The property is pretty much unretrieveable now. Let’s move on.”

    The blame lies heavily with the Commissioners, and their refusal to take responsibility to learn from their mistakes and make right. That is one of the first lessons children are taught in society. If you make a mistake, admit it, and then do what needs to be done to make it right. Seems folks forget common sense though when playing politics with someone else’s money during a election year.

    However Coleman is not clear and easy – he’s been nothing less than rapacious & egocentric throughout this entire sordid process. He knows his Queen is in the best location to hold power, and thus he feels like he make the will of the people bend to the will of his pockets. But he also has the power to have ended this whole debacle several times over.

    ” I do not disagree with you about it being our park (George Pack’s wishes should be honored). But eminent domain won’t work, it’s a slippery slope with an immense amount of resistance against it. I suspect Coleman could then sue (and would) and that in the best case, even if the county won, there would be tremendous legal fees and years of court cases. Again, the people, that’s us, foot the bill. ”

    Eminent domain is not an off-limits approach; it is just an uncommon one reserved for extreme situations. This situation has become extreme. It is a last resort for times when people can’t be reasoned with, and from all previous accounts Coleman can’t be reasoned with.
    If the Pack lawsuit wins, which I hope it does, it’ll be over as quickly as the land was first sold. But if the law deems that the deeds are unclear – despite the County and the City both in 2001 signing off on the official Pack Park perimeter, which includes the land from this sale – then this situation continues to even more extreme heights.
    We all want this to be done, and eminent domain is just an option that gets us to the end the quickest. With over 6.500 names on the petition, it seems there are a lot of supporters in favor of the measure as well.

    ” Here’s the real problem: the county commissioners, when they recently instituted zoning in our county, went against the express vote AGAINST zoning by the people of this county. If they are willing to do that, do you think one little magnolia tree (which I do not believe is even a native plant to this area) is going to faze them? ”

    Dang it – it is not just about the magnolia tree. The tree is a symbol for the whole kit-n-caboodle. However, that being said – one magnificent 150 year old tree that has watched the generations of Asheville grow and evolve has a little more significance that “one little magnolia tree.” If it was a 3 year old sapling I’d be standing next to you, but this tree is something else to behold. Go down there and see for yourself. I’m surprised a traditionalist such as yourself can’t see the loss that would incur with displacing this magnificent tree from it’s rightful home – our park.

    ” The question you need to be asking is ‘What will they do to us next?’ ”

    The real question we need to be asking is what will we do next to replace this non-transparent bull-headed bunch of politicians with real people who care about & represent the public’s best interest and the future of our city and community?

  23. Thunderpig:

    For the most part, we’re no longer debating the issue here, but rather the principles of a purely capitalist venture. Please take it to heart that I do not insult your principles, but offer you the opportunity to reconsider them in a different perspective.

    ” Financial contributions to a campaign are a form of free speech since they are our representatives, and speak for us…we give to those we judge most likely to speak as we would, or would be most effective in opposing someone we do not want speaking for us at all. ”

    Then you risk falling into a fascist feudal society where the people with the biggest trust funds have the most voice. The forefathers from the get-go of Plymouth Rock, to the Declaration of Independence, to the Civil War – have *always* intended this land to be a land of opportunity and liberty. That means that everyone gets a fair shot at making something of themselves, no matter what money they do or do not come from. You have the opportunity to make the right choices to succeed. That is the right and freedom for whom so many have fought for throughout the centuries.
    However putting 99% of the wealth into 1% of the pot makes it a lot more difficult to see what the right opportunities and choices are.

    ” Money is a storage battery of one’s work effort that benefits all mankind. Those who benefit humanity the most, ten to receive more money for their efforts. ”

    This point of view only works until your start factoring in those who succumb to illegal activities because they are consumed with greed of money. Drug dealing king-pins aren’t exactly my idea of the best of humanity, and I doubt they benefit much of mankind with their Benjamin’s.
    Or what about those who become so desperate they are forced into illegal acts? Our society does not always reward those with the noblest intentions for benefiting humanity as those who are willing and able to be cut-throat rapacious capitalists without sensibilities.

    ” I view money as a good thing, and paper money the best of a good thing because it allows wealth to be portable. Wealth is a reward for providing a service that pleases your fellow man. Money is neither moral nor immoral, although it is one of the best inventions of humankind. ”

    What is your feeling on debt and credit? Because if we are to consider that into the equation, the whole lot of us are in times of exceptional debt. No one has got any freedom to say anything outside of China & Saudi Arabia.
    Money itself is not moral or immoral, but greed and despair caused by our society’s monetary machine drive people to the extremes of both ends.

    ” If rhere was a title search performed on a deed, and there were no restrictions found, then the land is his free and clear no matter what anyone else says. If the wish to keep the land public forever was never placed on the title of the land, then there is no such restriction, and your claims that the land is public forever has no legal weight despite Pack’s intentions more than a century ago. ”

    The deed seems to be pretty clear, but we’ll just have to wait till August 25th to see the results. Nevertheless – both City and County officially declared that land as part of the park land in 2001.

  24. Tigerswede

    This is for comments on the article in question, take your rant over to Gordon’s site.

  25. Tigerswede

    oh, you don’t get any vowels over there either?

    Sorry, rant on JBo

  26. I am receiving notifications for comments that are supposed to be on this thread, but i don’t see them…

    One reads…

    “Someone just responded to the entry you subscribed to at:
    News Blog

    The title of the entry is:
    Commissioners delay Parkside action; Stanley, Ramsey received $2,100 from
    developer

    You can see the comment at the following URL:
    http://www.mountainx.com/news/commissioners_delay_parkside_action_stanley_ramsey_received_2100_from_devel/

    So, just to clarify, Thunder-Pig is calling “William Miller” an
    enviro-weenie?”

    I received it at 1.15pm. There are about four of them.
    It is puzzling because Mr Miller isn’t (yet) on this thread.

    JBo: I’m not ignoring you…still processing you voluminous response.

  27. Tigerswede

    I’m not sharing that with you, I see you don’t share yours either, smart.

    TS

  28. Jim Shura

    When JBo finally gets so upset that she decides to run for office I will give the max and so will every single one of my employees. Living, imaginary, dead, whether they know it or not-they will give generously. Just kidding-JBo wouldn’t take it.

    And Thunderpig, would you please shoot me, umm…send me… an e-mail or a PM I could reply to-I’ve been trying to ask you about something dear to both our hearts in those formats and either I’m not getting through or you are just a busy guy.

  29. Gordon Smith

    Mr. Coleman is asking for $4.5 million from the County. My understanding is that he bases this on the expenses he’s incurred.

    Mr. Coleman ought to open his books and prove those expenses to the public.

    My guess is that he’s just profiteering on the taxpayers’ nickel.

  30. Gordon, it’s his property — he can ask whatever he wants for it.

    This is the position the commissioners put us in, they really need to solve it. By law, they can’t give Coleman $4.5 mil, however — unless, of course, Coleman proves that really is now the fair market value.

    I would not like that nor most of the taxpayers in Buncombe County.

  31. Gordon Smith

    Ralph,

    He could also show some civic responsibility and do right by the citizens instead of profiteering.

    The County’s responsibility is clear, Ralph, and I think we agree on that. But Mr. Coleman has a responsibility as well. Maybe your moral code gives wide berth to folks who would defy the populace and the government while trying to make a killing, but this seems a simple problem with a simple solution.

    Return the land to the people. Mr. Coleman could do that whenever he wants to. He could end all of this today but chooses instead to drag it out.

  32. Gordon:

    He paid for the property, and should be able to do with it what he will. He should be able to receive whatever the market will bear when, and if, he decides to sell what is now his possession.

    If the government would just get out of his way…he could make far better use of the land than either the Asheville City Council, Buncombe County Commission, or the Packsquare Conservancy.

    I get warm and fuzzy thoughts when I think of all the building “up instead of out” that is happening in Asheville…saving on that pesky urban sprawl.

  33. Tigerswede

    Gordon,

    So every corporation or individual who sells or offers something to the public should have to have open books? Or is that just Mr. Coleman?

    Transparancy? No thanks!

  34. Gordon — yes — I agree with you, Coleman could return the property but it remains his decision, he does not have to.

    Why don’t you instead check into the personal liability of the commissioners. Was this a simple mistake or malfeasance? Should the commissioners be indited and removed from office? What are the legal issues?

    Plenty of meat there for you without obsessing on Coleman who, thanks to (I believe we all agree) is in the catbird seat because SOMEONE in county government made a major error in their responsibility to the people of Buncombe County.

  35. to expand on the above, it’s like a caller asked us during the “Citizens Speak” show last night on URTV:

    if elected officials act against the best interests of the people, shouldn’t they be removed from office right away instead of waiting to the next election and having time to do yet more damage? What are the triggers for such an action and does selling Irreplaceable heirloom property to a developer pull that trigger?

  36. Tiger –

    I wouldn’t call that much of a rant.
    A real rant would have been written more vehemently, with wild off the cuff points.

    Everything I wrote was was intended to be thoughtful and poignant.

    If you are alluding to the length of my posts, it was merely because half of it was quoting Mr. Pig & Mr. Roberts. Without including their words, I can assure you the post would have been rather pithy.

    I suppose when folks are used to reading mere snip-pits of text rather than a well thought idea, they get intimidated and thus choose to attack the post(er) rather than the points within.

  37. Ralph –

    I think we have that ability as citizens, it’s called impeachment. However it takes a lot of effort to go through such measures.

    And while Coleman might be sitting in the catbird seat, he’s not wearing any halo in the matter. There is no reason why his company should be rewarded for their actions; whether that be physically attacking the press, clear cutting the mountains*, or strong arming the tax-payers to get as much as he can out of them.
    (*reference to the Reynolds Mountain development)

    I’d be highly curious to see what the fair market value of those land parcels would be, compared to the numbers everyone is throwing around.

  38. JBo, commercial appraisals are about $2500… perhaps some citizen group should commission one.

    No, Coleman has no halo but he is entirely within his rights. It’s the county government that is wrong.

    As to impeachment of county commissioners or recall elections, I think you’ll find that is not in North Carolina law in the case of commissioners. So back to can they be indited? Or, since they serve at the pleasure of the State government, could our legislators step in?

  39. Coleman and his late father, R.L. Coleman, I believe were involved in the development. The Colemans have done much development in Asheville over the years… R.L. did some of the first apartment complexes in Asheville in the late 40s and early 50s. His crowning (and certainly most lucrative project was the Asheville Mall, which he owned for many years. Stewart, his son, worked for his father for years, learning the trade.

    So, while many of us (including me) disagree with how the Parkside project is going, the Colemans are not some johnny-come-lately outsiders here for a quick profit, they have lived in and benefitted Asheville for a very long time. Of course, that also means they have a bunch of insider connections, too. ;-)

    In essence, I think Coleman is probably a lot bigger than some of you seem to realize.

    Again, does not mean he’s totally without blame.

  40. Gordon Smith

    Ralph,

    Would it be correct to say that the Asheville Mall was a key part of the decline of downtown Asheville?

    The family has a history of hurting downtown?

  41. Tigerswede

    Jbo,

    I’m wating for your answer.

    Or let Gordon, whatever.

    TS

  42. Tiger –

    Ralph answered for me. I didn’t feel the need to respond.

    Lou Bissette represents both SB Coleman and the Reynolds Mountain Partners – it runs deep and everyone has their hands in everyone else’s pockets.

  43. Reality Check

    Every small town’s first mall crushes what used to be the retail environment of downtown. I grew up in Kingsport and it happened there. It takes decades practically for downtown to recover. I’d say its more of a society issue vs one guy’s evil intentions.

  44. Times changed, Gordon … I lived through all this and most people were REALLY excited when the Asheville Mall opened, but R.L. Coleman did not start the trend. The first shopping center was George Coggins’ Westgate (in 1961 or ’62, I marched in the Erwin High School Band at the big opening ceremony). Then came the Tunnel Road Shopping Center (later Innsbruck Mall). So Coleman just jumped in on what was already happening. But it wasn’t like it was totally accepted. The folks up on White Pine Drive (the Mall is literally in their back yards) protested… and someone even dynamited part of the mall during initial construction.

    However, if you want to attempt to demonize Stewart Coleman, at least get your history right.

    But, again, I think you’re literally barking up the wrong tree on this. (all the various puns in that sentence, intentional). The county government screwed up and they need to fix it in some manner that won’t get them lynched (figuratively, of course) or one side or the other.

    Someone asked me recently — seriously and I was flattered — if I wanted to run for commissioner.

    No. I’ve already done my combat tour, thank you very much. ;-)

  45. To be more explicit, Gordon … the whole WORLD has a history of hurting downtown Asheville because it has been resistant to modernization and other change … lots of reasons for this, most strongly rooted in the real estate boom and bust and the city’s bankruptcy during the 20s and 30s. The Great Depression did not help either.

    So all this blather by outsiders about Asheville’s ‘quaintness’ and ‘Paris of the Southness’ is just plain misunderstanding of all the underlying reasons for what happened.

    It does not seem that many folks in our current city and county governments know much about the history of this area. So we’re making a lot of the same mistakes all over again, only faster and on a much larger scale, and with a lot more outside developers involved and looking for the quick profit instead of building a lasting social, commercial, and regional governmental structure that works.

    And you “progressives” are worrying about one frickin’ little tree?

  46. Gordon Smith

    Thanks for the history, Ralph. It certainly sounds like the “mall” concept was catching on around that time. Also… dynamiting the Asheville Mall during construction?!?! It makes today’s opposition look like sissies, eh?

    We’re not, however, worrying about “one frickin’ little tree”. We’re worrying about secret deals between government and a private developer selling off our public land. The tree happens to be on the land.

    Mischaracterizing the opposition isn’t helpful either, yo.

    Stewart Coleman could end the whole hubbub today if he so chose. He could accept a $4 million dollar offer and walk away into his next rapacious project. Instead he’s going to continue to match the villainous developer stereotype much to the detriment of all the ethical developers in this town who are trying to do right by the citizens.

  47. I’d like to see some of you guys try to protest the malls, and yes, you guys are sissies. LOL!

    But, I guess we’ll get to test that theory out and see if you guys break out the chains and padlocks and lay down in front of bulldozers when they start rolling…if you guys continue to live up to the stereotype of watermelon environMENTALists. Green on the outside, and red on the inside.

  48. Gordon Smith

    Environmentalists?

    The opposition to this project includes:

    Asheville City Council
    Buncombe County Commission
    Asheville Citizen Times
    Asheville Preservation Society
    Pack Square Conservancy
    Democracy For America
    Asheville Downtown Association
    Coven Oldenwilde
    Buncombe County Democratic Party
    Asheville Tree Commission
    Don Yelton (Want Someone Different?)
    7,000 + signatories to the eminent domain petition

    I could go on and on. Mischaracterizing the opposition is one of the mistakes that Coleman’s been making throughout this debacle.

  49. Yep, enviros all, including my friend Don Yelton, not that there is anything wrong with that.

    If the land was sold illegally, then the people who sold it (and/or made it possible to sell it) should (in my opinion) go to prison for it. If the land was not sold illegally, then Stewart Coleman should be able to claim damages on all people (and associations of people) who have publicly defamed his character.

    The anarchists under the Magnolia Tree should thank whatever it is they call holy that Coleman is a nice guy, and accommodating. Were I in his place, I would insist that my rights as property owner be respected, squatters removed, and the tree cut down by me personally.

    As a hobbyist woodworker, I’d make trinkets from the tree to display prominently in the new building, or to send as occasional gifts to the most vocal of my opponents.

    Mischaracterizing and underestimating Coleman has been your side’s fatal error.

  50. Gordon Smith

    “Developer Stewart Coleman told City Council members Tuesday he would move his controversial condominium complex closer to City Hall should he be denied permission for a road on public parkland.” – AC-T

    Nice guy!

    “Stewart Coleman paid $322,000 in November, 2006 for the County parcel that includes the public park land. He paid about $1.2 million for the Hayes and Hopson building eight months earlier. That means he’s already laid out about $1.6 million dollars in real estate, but he’s claiming he needs $2.9 million dollars more. That’s a 250% profit in under two years. Nice work if you can get it.” – Yours Truly

    Nice guy!

    “Stewart Coleman lunged at me, grabbed my hand, squeezed it, and tried to wrestle my camera away. I was stunned. You saw it on my face. The man, the big man, the very one and only richest and most powerful developer in all of Asheville and Buncombe County, Stewart “The Fist” Coleman, was getting physical with me right in front of God and everyone.” – Byron Belzak

    Nice guy!

    “I wonder what they’ll complain about next?”” – Stewart Coleman

    Nice guy!

    ““I think that City Council is political, and unfortunately this town listens to the noisy 80 people that jump around and dance around trees and do foolish stuff,” he [Coleman] said.”- from AC-T

    Nice Guy!

    Altering the view corridor drawings from the PSC?
    http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us/?p=5498

    Nice Guy!

  51. Yep, enviros all, including my friend Don Yelton…

    Yes, I know that for a fact. Don is a lot greener and has a bunch more commonsense than most of the Proggies and Sustainabillys in these parts, which is why I’m voting for him for County Commissioner. LISTEN to Don, he makes sense for the mountains.

  52. Gordon, I think you are off Coleman’s Christmas card list.

    If you just felt as strongly about those who REALLY caused this problem.

  53. Don is the right kind of enviro. He doesn’t let politics get in the way of determining if something is good or bad for the environment.

  54. Gordon Smith

    Ralph,

    Who says I don’t?

    Ramsey needs to lose his Chair. Bill Stanley? Shoo. We need to bring in Jones and Bailey. As to Mrs. Peterson? She had the stones to pass zoning, but she doesn’t demonstrate any leadership on this issue at all.

    Only David Gantt has conducted himself with any class throughout this Parkside furor.

  55. Gordon… I agree with you on most of that, all except for Jones, she’d be a disaster. Ray Bailey would be great, I’ve known him like forty years and he’s a great and accomplished guy.

    As to actions of the current commissioners re zoning, most get an F. On Parkside, most get an F, but since you like Gantt so much, let’s give him a D- and detention. Non of the county commissioners have exactly covered themselves in glory this term.

  56. Austin

    Pardon me for joining late, and maybe you guys hit o n this, but isn’t it rather certain that the lawsuit will find that the sale was illegal (maybe not best word) due to the language clearly stating that the land HAD to be used for public use? Debate as we might about Coleman’s principles,it seems clear what the lawsuit must say about this deal. And then what happens, arbitration? And then we get to continue having wonderful events in this unique space, and beucatcher will be visible and beautiful and I don’t have to reminisce about how it used to be down there .

  57. Right on, Austin!

    Now, Gordon, where were you and all the other proggies when they ripped through Beaucatcher Mountain? That was a MAJOR rape of the environment … compared to it, the magnolia tree is no more than a momentary puff of breeze 400 miles away.

    I was here, I opposed it. Did not stop the months and months of dynamite.

  58. Gordon Smith

    The density is deliberate, right Ralph?

    I don’t know how many times the issues surrounding the sale of the land and the behavior of a developer have been explained to you. But maybe you just need to convince yourself it’s about a tree. That makes it easier somehow?

    I know the good old days will always be far more heroic for you to recount, but please get on the stick about this controversy.

  59. Austin

    Ralph, I think a lot of us proggies moved here more recently from uglier or highly developed places which is why we get active trying to save the natural beauty of Asheville. We got our arses kicked in Austin and now it is undesirable for people who require open spaces, it’s just another dense urban environment where you spend too much time traveling from a to b.
    If more of the current protest bunch had been here, we probably would have sat on Beaucatcher waiting for bulldozers, or dynamite, until they hauled us off to jail!

  60. But, Austin, if you guys couldn’t save where you came from, why do you think you can do it here?

    it’s like the classic Pogo cartoon … you guys are worried about a few hundred square feet and a magnolia tree. Look UP, all the mountains are being covered with condos and they are MOSTLY newcomers. To paraphrase Pogo, you have found the enemy and it is you.

  61. Austin:

    The problem is that the restriction did not apply to this particular piece of land sold.

    If it did, a title search would have shown it.

    If there was a restriction, and it was ignored…then the fault lies with who ever dealt with the mechanics of the land transfer in the County, perhaps even in the Register of Deeds Dept, and most certainly who ever surveyed the land.

    Blaming Coleman is like blaming a symptom of a disease…like getting angry at a sniffle instead of combating the virus that caused the sniffle.

    If you suppress the sniffle, you still have the virus until it has run the course of infection.

    Methinks the investigative types should be investigating the county manager. Did she benefit?

    If she had been resistant to this activity you all so “piously” object to, then it would not have gone forward.

    To continue with my metaphor…Raging at Coleman is like raging at a mosquito instead of draining the nearby swamp.

    Has anyone had the land described in the original deed surveyed, not counting all the additions to it over the years?

    That would put an end to right now, except for the whining.

  62. Austin

    Wow Ralph, that pogo comment started a pandoras box which will take a while for me to assimilate. I wasn’t familiar with the cartoon.
    The enemy is not me, I live in a 1929 reconditioned house in West Asheville, so I don’t fall into the super wealthy, buy a happy slice of downtown Asheville, ridge top dream house category of second home transplant. Also, I volunteer. Enemy?
    The battles in Austin were against more and bigger money than what is going on here. Well actually, the Ellington is mostly financed by Texas money, so it looks like Asheville can expect the same pressures to build build build.
    The fact that we couldn’t save Austin will not deter me from valuing esthetics over wanton development.
    Mountains, condos? Ralph, you seem to dislike the hills being covered. I do as well. Other than slope ordinance, how do we keep this from happening? That might be a different post.
    I wish you guys would quit making the ‘it’s just a tree comment’ because the tree is not just a symbol but a real asset to townspeople. Have you ever been to a shindig on the green when it was hot and sunny? I mean don’t you feel a little sorry for it, it’s kind of like a bastard child with it’s illegal owner. The only thing it wants is to respire and give us oxygen and shade us.

    Gordan said,
    ‘Mr. Coleman is asking for $4.5 million from the County. My understanding is that he bases this on the expenses he’s incurred.
    Mr. Coleman ought to open his books and prove those expenses to the public.
    My guess is that he’s just profiteering on the taxpayers’ nickel.’

    YES! YES! YES! I can’t believe he was foolish enough to spend that on a speculation. Putting the buck before the ole brain. I think he has inflated his expenses in order to gain sympathy and manipulate the price.

  63. The solution to sprawl is allowing people to build up. Coleman is building up…and had to modify his plan because people were worried about “the viewshed”. I find it deliciously ironic that in an attempt to preserve “the viewshed” more pressure was created that will virtually guarantee that “the viewshed” will be destroyed.

    Remember Quinn’s First Law:

    “Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of it’s stated intent.”

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Quinn's+First+Law

    I see no one has an answer to my question about Wanda, nor my easy survey the original deed question.

    This is because the land upon which the building will be sitting is not part of that deed.

    Camping out at Wanda’s house might be a more effective form of protest, for it is she who wields the power.

  64. Reality Check

    TP is right. The title of that piece of land had to be recorded with the restrictions on it or the law gets extremely complicated. Was it ever done? If it was, were those restrictions ignored? I would imagine the Pack’s court case is discussing this very topic. If those restrictions weren’t properly recorded, there is big egg on somebody’s face.

  65. Gordon Smith

    TP,

    Coleman’s people actually altered the Pack Square Conservancy guidelines for view in order to make it look like he conformed with the original intent. He’s now threatening to moving his building directly in front of the iconic City Hall.

    View Askew: http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us/?p=5498

    Parkside Shuffle: http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us/?p=5773

    This is, of course, after ducking and dodging City Council overview of the project.

    I’m confused as to why conservatives like yourself appear completely unable to grasp the notion that Coleman is behaving badly.

  66. Austin

    “I find it deliciously ironic that in an attempt to preserve “the view shed” more pressure was created that will virtually guarantee that “the viewshed” will be destroyed.” uh, what? If Coleman has his way, the view shed will be destroyed. If the citizenry have our way, it won’t be destroyed. What is this guarantee you speak of, the guarantee of destruction? How exactly are progressives responsible for potentially destroying the view shed? Please spell it out, because I can’t figure what your talking about.

    “Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of it’s stated intent.” Yeah, go ahead and slap us with this stupid comment to distract us.
    Your right, the civil rights movement was wrong and a step in the wrong direction, women voting as well. Now you are quoting Limbaughs contemporaries. I can’t continue with you. Seriously. I’m out. I will not respond to people who employ right wing doctrine to point out irrelevant statements. Or should that say i will not respond to irrelevant statements that employ right wing doctrine.
    THE COURTS WILL SETTLE THIS AND WE WILL BE READY FOR THE NEXT BATTLE.

  67. Austin:

    Use your head to think. By limiting the height of the buildings, and limiting the density of new units of construction…you FORCE people to build outside the city limits, and push them up to the slopes nearby the cities…covering the hills with homes and condos. That ruins the viewshed the retarded zoners claim they work to preserve. Just look at southern Buncombe County where zoning has been in effect the longest.

    In my opinion, the Civil Rights movement was very wrong, and took the path of creating more hatred. Instead of creating government programs, and generations of people dependent on entitlements, the aim should have been to focus on recognition that the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution already granted that which the Civil Rights movement took away. Nothing good has come from that movement. It is based on the evil concept of continuous societal revolution.

    I know these are foreign concepts to be expounded upon in this socialist newspaper, and in Socialist Asheville. Lefties are among the most intolerant people when it comes to attempting to silence those who disagree with them. (i.e. the Fairness Doctrine, et al)

    Quinn is the guy who taught Rush Limbaugh about radio.

    And when the courts decide against you, will you accept it, and let he bulldozers come in, or will you (and yours) resort to illegal acts of disobedience?

    It is among my most fondest of wishes that these communities that are seeking incorporation are successful in doing so, and embrace a culture or progress…welcoming new construction, businesses and industry. I hope they grow to become bigger, and better than Asheville…while Asheville sees it’s businesses move to theses new and prosperous cities.

    And quit taxing unused land. Taxes on unused land forces the owners to sell…and the new owners will build on that land.

    E pur si muove

    That is why Quinn’s Law is so very apropos.

  68. Gordon:

    You guys can’t expect Coleman not to sit and be attacked without striking back.

    Methinks you guys are playing checkers while Coleman is playing chess…I look forward to dining and shopping in the new building.

  69. Methinks you guys are playing checkers while Coleman is playing chess…I look forward to dining and shopping in the new building.

    more like they brought a rubber knife to a gunfight that was already over.

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