Eliciting hisses of disapproval and cries of “Shame!” the city of Asheville’s Technical Review Committee on Monday voted unanimously to approve the reworked Parkside condominium development.
Since a height reduction in May removed the project from a Level III Conditional Use hearing by City Council, the Technical Review Committee’s approval is the last word on the project’s design. But that approval came with conditions, and developer Stewart Coleman still has to secure easements from both the city and Buncombe County before proceeding with the current design.
The review played to a packed room on the first floor of City Hall, with people filling the doorway looking for a seat. Even Coleman and his representatives were forced to wait in the hall until called to comment.
Those opposing the development were generally unhappy with the restrictions placed on comment during the meeting. The TRC can only consider points that apply to the technical nature of the building and construction, and has no authority to consider larger issues of the project like sale of parkland by Buncombe County or Parkside’s cultural impact on Pack Square Park.
But with few chances so far to air their grievances, some attendees managed to get their say in anyway.
“The UDO is so far out of balance, that’s why this got passed,” said resident Donna Bateman. “You are not going to take away our park.”
Others stuck to technical issues like traffic. Asheville resident Jake Quinn noted that the building will increase traffic around the area, including on a road between the condominiums and the park — a consideration not included in the park’s redesign. “No one anticipated huge volumes of traffic running through it,” he said.
This is the second time the TRC has seen the Parkside project, and the second time it has voted unanimously to approve it. A single “no” vote would have meant the Parkside development would not have gotten the approval it needed.
Steve Rasmussen and Dixie Deerman, two of the more public faces in the fight to stop Parkside, both said they were disappointed but not surprised by the TRC’s decision.
“We’re finding out how much this system was made by developers 10 years ago,” Rasmussen told Xpress.
Meanwhile, activists are still holding out hope that Buncombe County will refuse the construction easements Coleman will need to move forward, and Asheville City Council is still exploring options of its own, and plans to discuss the issue at its July 15 meeting.
— Brian Postelle, staff writer