Developer Frank Howington and his E. F. Howington Company have once again circumvented the wishes of the residents of the Kenilworth section of Asheville and the spirit of the initial City Council vote.
Howington hired the Van Winkle law firm, which employs Council member Esther Manheimer. [She] had to recuse herself, thereby changing the votes needed to approve [or block] his Kenilworth development [see “Checks and Balances, May 17 Xpress].
This developer [seems to] believe he [has] the right to impose his development on a community that has categorically and demonstratively expressed its opposition: Community be damned — overcrowded streets, slope erosion, parking issues be damned.
I don't know who to be more angry with, Mr. Howington … or City Council for their lack of political will and courage in dealing with developers, allowing yet another developer’s avarice to overcome common sense and community wishes.
Just because you have the legal right does not always mean you have the moral right. The caretakers, in this instance City Council, are really not city planners, so it’s understandable that they view development and developers as their economic modality. But if Asheville is to retain its character and livability, development must be kept in check and our economy can't revolve around “build it and they will come.”
Instead, how about quality of life, sustainability and economic viability built on the common good and community values? Too much? Yeah, I know — wishful thinking.
— Jesse Junior