Some locals have long been in the habit of referring to an area east of Asheville as “Swannanowhere.”
The nickname might have seemed apt, once. But Swannanoa isn’t feeling so remote and undiscovered these days. Subdivisions are going up, several at a go, including the high-profile Cliffs at High Carolina, planned for Swannanoa Mountain.
“Our population density is growing, our traffic is growing, and the demands on local services are growing,” says Dave Alexander, a Swannanoa resident who, along with a number of fellow organizers, is trying for those reasons to earn his home a formal town status.
Ever since the Cliffs Communities Inc. announced its plans, Alexander and a task force of 11 others have studied the possibility of incorporation and its implications. They’ve established what the town’s boundaries might be, what services might be needed, and the ad valorem (property) tax rate necessary to pay for those services. They’ve made tentative arrangements with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department for additional security, signed a tentative contract with the Swannanoa Volunteer Fire Company and cold-called Progress Energy on the matter of street-lighting. The task force has also picked a form of government for the would-be town, consisting of an elected mayor and five city council members, each serving on staggered terms.
The next step? Get at least 15 percent of the roughly 6,000 voters who live there to sign a petition in favor of town- hood.
“We believe that no one can represent Swannanoa people better than Swannanoa people,” Alexander says, adding that, “It’s really not an anti-annexation effort. It’s more of a self-determination issue. It’s an issue of providing Swannanoa with its own voice.”
If the petition campaign succeeds, the proposal will go to the state General Assembly for what Alexander calls a “picking-apart.”
In time, he says, Swannanoa just might earn a new epithet.
“It’ll be Swannasomewhere, not Swannanowhere,” he says.
Between now and Nov. 17, residents in favor of incorporation may sign petitions at a number of Swannanoa locations: On Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., at PSA Pharmacy, Burger King, the Breakfast Shoppe, Allstate Insurance and the Buckeye Cove Community Center. On Monday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., at the Swannanoa Visitors Center, the Swannanoa Volunteer Fire Department and at 510 Bee Tree Road. On Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Welcome Table. Call Alexander at 279-3221 for more information.