Mayor to meet with Staples

After a nearly yearlong stalemate between the city and the Staples office-supply company, a face-to-face is finally in the cards. On Sept. 7, Mayor Terry Bellamy will visit Staples headquarters in Framingham, Mass., to discuss issues surrounding the Merrimon Avenue store, including it’s controversial sign.

The sit-down follows repeated requests from the city for a meeting with Staples executives. So far, communication from the company has been limited to letters. In one such letter, sent to Bellamy in January, Staples Vice President of Real Estate Ted Frumpkin said the company has no plans to change the sign.

In related news, Staples has also complained to the city about the mysterious deaths of plants in the store’s landscaping strip, and alleges that vandals poisoned the plants.

“I thought you should know what we are dealing with here,” reads a June e-mail from Frumpkin to Bellamy. For more on that story, pick up the Sept. 5 issue of Xpress.

Brian Postelle, staff writer

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13 thoughts on “Mayor to meet with Staples

  1. James "TalkAsheville.com"

    With all due respect there is absolutely no reason for the Mayor to be flying off to Staples headquarters at the tax payers expense. If staples wants this worked out bad enough they should come here to council chambers with the public in attendance.

    My personal opinion is that Staples needs to do what was originally approved by city council even if it means major construction to the building. It’s a eyesore, and every time I drive by it I see a new piece of graffiti on it.

    James

  2. I agree entirely with James… the city’s wasting several hundred dollars of taxpayer money to send the Mayor up there in what is already a lost cause. After the poisoning of their plants by vandals (to the tune of about $15,000 in replacement costs) and their other efforts, Staples quite rightly is in no mood to compromise, especially since they did what the city asked in the first place. What’s more, they shouldn’t have to.

    The neighborhood people need to forget this one and more on to something else. I’m sure it will be equally kooky but, hey, at least we can all buy office supplies in peace again. ;-)

  3. James "TalkAsheville.com"

    Well….and I could be wrong but staples did not follow the Asheville UDO fully but then again it has been watered down to the point that it has no teeth in it for enforcement. Besides that, the main point is, I just think the mayor flying off to here and there at tax payer expense when it appears Staples does not intend to compromise is just wasteful spending.

  4. I have reported on UDO issues for several years and would note that the rules have not actually been watered down—though some argue that enforcement has been uneven.

    The clause that effectively prevents any “watering down” is this:

    UDO 7-2-4(b) Conflicting provisions of this chapter. In the event of any conflict between the limitations, requirements, or standards contained in different provisions of this chapter in applying them to an individual use or structure, the more restrictive provision shall apply. However, the regulations for overlay districts set forth in article IX of this chapter shall control in the event of any conflict between those regulations and regulations which are set forth in article VIII of this chapter for the underlying district. In the event of a conflict or inconsistency between the text of this chapter and any caption, figure, illustration, or map contained herein, the text shall control.

    Unless that rule, or multiple rules were modified, no watering down could occur. In fact, there have been very few amendments to the UDO since its adoption.

  5. James "TalkAsheville.com"

    My Point mainly is if you read some of the articles, city council and city attorneys have noted several times that the current UDO has no teeth or there is no legal recourse at the cities disposal without opening or making the city itself open to legal action. Sounds like in a lot of ways it has basically become useless and is dependent on voluntary compliance

  6. “With all due respect there is absolutely no reason for the Mayor to be flying off to Staples headquarters at the tax payers expense.”

    Yes, but it’s a lot cheaper than being on the losing end of litigation against the city.

    Staples has been allowed to build and operate in spite of the violations. Changing the rules (or enforcement measures) now could result in a great expense for Staples. They would likely sue the city and win.

    I’ll vote for the mayor flying coach.

  7. Joe

    Here’s the rules on the setbacks. Be sure to get to the last line:

    “Front: 15 feet, except that the minimum setback may be reduced to zero feet in pedestrian-oriented areas where road widening is not anticipated provided that all parking is located to the side or rear and not closer to the street than the facade of the principal structure, and where pedestrian-oriented design features are incorporated in building and site design.
    Side: None required.
    Rear: None required.
    Corner lot, street side: 15 ft.”

    Rules for the signage are clear as well. This shouldn’t have taken 2 years for the “discovery”

  8. Orbit DVD

    Could someone clear something up for me? Was this the fault of Staples or the developer?

    thanks,

    marc

  9. The developer is Staples, though, of course, Staples hired a contractor to do the construction.

    An interesting piece of the enforcement puzzle that is often overlooked is that there is no exception to the setback rule and enforcement is mandatory under the UDO. It requires that a violater be cited and fined.

    While it may be the city’s fault that the construction plan as approved and installed was in violation, the city cannot be held accountable for enforcement failure due to the legal doctrine of “sovereign immunity.” A government entity is supposed to follow the law, but is permitted to make mistakes. The violater, however, is required to follow the law whether or not government filled its role as enforcer. Sovereign immunity does not prevent a developer like Staples from filing a law suit if it takes exception to being cited for a violation, even if it is unlikely to prevail. But the threat of an expensive legal fight is apparently the reason why Asheville has not chosen to impose a citation and fine in this case.

  10. It is the fault of the City of Asheville for writing an UDO in plain English and/or enforcing it.

    And the fault of the neighborhood and ecofreakos for making a fuss over something that can not now be changed…

    and for barbaric graffiti and the poisoning of plants.

    get a life, folks! move on

  11. er… that should be NOT writing an UDO in plain English…

    I believe it is more in Serbo-Croatian or perhaps ancient Egyptian WITHOUT the pictures. ;-)

  12. In my work as a reporter I have found it necessary to read and re-read the UDO and my lasting impression is that it is wriiten in exceptionally clear English. Dr. Owens was only able to discern a couple of unclear items in his examination of it last year.

    People with different axes to grind seem to be able to read confusion into it, but the law itself tends to be explicit.

    In the case of Staples’ setbacks, for example, here is the relevant passage. It is hard to imagine it being stated more clearly:

    UDO 7-8-13f(5) Setback standards. The following minimum setbacks shall be required for uses in the Community Business II District.
    Front: 15 feet, except that the minimum setback may be reduced to zero feet in pedestrian-oriented areas where road widening is not anticipated provided that all parking is located to the side or rear and not closer to the street than the facade of the principal structure, and where pedestrian-oriented design features are incorporated in building and site design.
    Side: None required.
    Rear: None required.
    Corner lot, street side: 15 ft.

  13. ummm… you think that’s plain English?

    plain English would be:

    “Community Business II District Setback: 15 feet.”

    leave nothing for interpretation and everyone has to adhere exactly.

    common sense and the Constitutional right should be:

    “It’s your property and your money; build it like you want.”

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