My family and I have owned property adjacent to the Coggins’ property on Old Farm School Road referenced in the article, [“Colliding Visions,” Jan. 22, Xpress] for 70 years. The majority of people who live in the Old Farm School area oppose Case Enterprise’s proposed development, constituting nearly 400 housing units and commercial properties. However, those most affected were given a scant 10 days’ notice and only a few brief minutes to speak before the Planning Board rushed to its hasty decision to approve commercial rezoning just before the December holidays.
The rezoning issue was originally going to be heard by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in February in spite of requests from the community for additional time and thorough studies on environmental, flooding, traffic and other impacts. In the end, it was the developer who was granted a delay the day after a petition raising concerns about the proposed development was submitted to the commissioners with over 160 signatures.
No public hearings before the commissioners have been held to date, no one proactively explained the process to the community, while the developer has had one to two years to lobby the Planning Board and county commissioners. It has been left up to the community to figure out the process from county staff. It leaves one to wonder where democracy and community input fits into a process that seems heavily weighted in favor of corporate interests. The issue next goes before the Board of Adjustment, a quasi-judicial body that places strict constraints on public input, largely requiring the community to defer to “experts.”
The process appears to be anything but transparent or democratic, and warrants revision — more notice for communities, more opportunity for input. If a development project cannot stand up to thorough study and public scrutiny, then it should not be approved.
— Lucinda Wykle-Rosenberg and Dr. Eric Rosenberg