Online poll: Readers’ picks for P&Z different from Council’s

In the days leading up to Asheville City Council’s Aug. 23 vote, Xpress asked readers to weigh in on who they would appoint to the Planning & Zoning Commission, via an online poll. Unfortunately, due to a technical glitch, Xpress wasn’t able to tally some of the results. However, we did get an accurate read of the votes that were cast from 4 p.m. Aug. 23 through noon the next day — the period during the vote and after the vote, when the issue was getting the most online attention.

Here are readers’ picks for the powerful board, which are notably very different from those of Council.

Joe Minicozzi, interim executive director of the Asheville Downtown Association, topped our poll with 41 percent of the vote. Rounding out the other top spots were real estate broker Mark Mathews and community activist (and former Xpress reporter) Steve Rasmussen, none of whom were appointed by Council.

P&Z Online Poll

In contrast to our admittedly non-scientific poll, here are City Council’s picks:

Jane Matthews:

Jane Mathews
Matthews received votes from Cecil Bothwell, Brownie Newman, Gordon Smith and Terry Bellamy.

Kristy Carter:

Kristy Carter
Carter received votes from Esther Manheimer, Brownie Newman, Bill Russell and Jan Davis.

Jeremy Goldstein:

Jeremy H. Goldstein
Goldstein received votes from Esther Manheimer, Terry Bellamy, Bill Russell and Jan Davis.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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12 thoughts on “Online poll: Readers’ picks for P&Z different from Council’s

  1. Jake

    Forget the poll and its results. It was bogus to begin with.

    The Council tends to disappoint me with its P&Z selections, and this case was no different. Generally, the Council seems to prefer that P&Z applicants be either in the real estate business or acquiescent. Councilman Bothwell’s three excellent choices were the departure from the Council norm. So, while disappointing, the selections were by no means surprising.

    The one strong positive this time around was that no one who was unqualified garnered a single vote. This was is sharp contrast to the Council’s abysmal performance last time P&Z had vacancies to be filled.

  2. Barry Summers

    The videos from the interviews are up on the City website. Watch the talent that was and wasn’t chosen for seats on the most important un-elected body in Asheville:;-23-11.wmv

    My favorite moment comes from realtor Jeremy Goldstein, who under questioning from Gordon Smith (29:30), couldn’t come up with a single building in the downtown which he thought was out of character or scale for the surrounding area (there were several candidate buildings he mentioned, but he deferred from judging them because “I’ve got clients that might be involved” – get used to hearing that).

    Second-guessing previous P&Z decisions is a fair subject for debate, but after refusing to pass judgment, Mr. Goldstein actually volunteered a striking example underlying his reasoning: the BB&T Building. He cited it as something that some might find out of character or scale, but that:

    “…fast-forward 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now, it could have a new skin, it could have an extended tower, it could look totally different. There could be other buildings around it in the skyline, that change it’s current look. Who am I to say you can’t do that? (shrugging)”

    Meaning, there isn’t any building anyone would ever propose that he would vote against. This can’t possibly be the mindset of a Commissioner, yet there he now sits.

    This town’s government is broken. It will take a major effort of will to fix it. Are we up to it?

  3. Just changing out the City Council won’t necessarily change the makeup of a board. What concerned citizens might wish to do is lobby for legal changes to the makeup of the board.

    I’m sure no one wants to completely forbid real estate/developers from a P&Z board, but it seems that a board like this would be better served by having a clearly defined set of quota requirements. Someone from RE/Development, someone from a preservation background, someone in green energy, etc….

    You know, representative democracy.

    Maybe that’s just me. I’m weird.

  4. Mat,….. One would think that a cross section like you suggest would be first and foremost on the Council members minds?

    Why would the citizens need to seek expensive legal means to get Council to do what they should already be doing?

  5. Well, if it were possible for all of City Council to be able to interpret and fulfill the wishes of all the people they represent, then we’d all have to be on City Council.

    Now, one could attempt to organize community-level meetings to keep Council members apprised of how the people feel on this – or other – issues. Or, one could identify those changes that need to be made and bring them to Council. I’m not sure how much the Council is paid but it might have to be increased to actually create Civil Servants as opposed to just part-time legislators.

    Sure, you can be prepared for resistance but that’s when the talk of changing Council comes in.

    Or, we could talk about changing the nature of local governance completely.

  6. I don’t think it’s too much to expect our elected officials to know that a commission like P & Z needs to be staffed with a healthy cross section, along the lines you mentioned above. That is IF they care about the longterm betterment of our community….from the looks of things, that is a very big IF.

  7. [b]I don’t think it’s too much to expect our elected officials to know that a commission like P & Z needs to be staffed with a healthy cross section…[/b]

    Well, maybe council shouldn’t be elected from the business class, then.

    /just sayin’

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