In order to create an environmentally sustainable community, both elected officials and citizens must be open to policy and lifestyle changes, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy said in her April 3 State of the City address.
Standing before a nearly full City Council chamber, Bellamy gave her second such address, highlighting several topics, including the inevitability of new environmentally sound policies. “The way we used to do business is no longer viable,” she said. “We must increase our tolerance for sustainable initiatives beyond recycling and other staff-driven programs.”
Bellamy began giving the annual speech at City Hall after her election in 2006, saying that while previous addresses were done by request before local organizations, the city’s seat of government was the most appropriate venue.
“I choose to give the address here first because it is important that the citizens of Asheville have the opportunity to hear the status of the city and my vision for the future from the source, at the source where policies are made,” she said.
Bellamy highlighted city advances in the past year, including steps to repair Asheville’s water system and Civic Center.
Noting that the $2.4 million deficit resulting from the 2006 water agreement breakup was similar to the $2.6 million shortfall left by the state-budget crisis, she noted that this year the city was able to make spending cuts without reducing services or cutting jobs.
Most of Bellamy’s topics, such as development in the city, straddled both the past and the future. Noting that building-permit applications jumped 200 percent in the past 10 years, she stressed that Asheville must develop its relationship with Buncombe County to properly prepare for growth. She also pointed out that upcoming Unified Development Ordinance amendments for steep-slope development, landscaping requirements, enforcement and signage are currently in the works.
But Bellamy emphasized that the city government cannot confront every issue on its own, encouraging Asheville residents to become involved in activities like volunteerism and public safety. Neighbors, she said, should coordinate their efforts to better watch out for each other, and report criminal activities to police.
The mayor’s final words, which were directed at City Council and the community at large, stressed overcoming divisiveness and disagreement to shape the future.
“Council members have their own vision for the city. But when we come together, we get better results,” she said. “Our diversity only holds us back as much as we permit it to.”
The entire text of Mayor Bellamy’s address can be found on the city of Asheville’s Web site (www.ashevillenc.gov).