Tree commission passes resolution to protect downtown-Asheville magnolia ***UPDATED WITH DOCUMENT**

Few Asheville trees have attracted as much attention as the magnolia located on a parcel of downtown parkland that was sold to developer Stewart Coleman. For starters, it’s at the center of a debate surrounding a controversial land deal.

It’s also become the symbolic center of a mini culture war of sorts between a Pagan group, Coven Oldenwilde, and a conservative political group, the Carolina Stompers. Last summer, the coven held a ceremony to protect the tree from being removed to make way for a condominum building. They encircled it, chanting spells — called “barbarous words of power” — that they said were meant to keep the tree safe from harm.

The ceremony was captured on a YouTube video ad that showed City Council candidate Elaine Lite taking part. A raging letters-to-the-editor war that ensued between the Pagans and the Stompers this past winter brought the magnolia into public consciousness once again.

Most recently, the magnolia has gained the favor of the Asheville Tree Commission, which has recognized the 100-year-old flowering tree’s historic significance. In a March 18 letter to City Council, the commission “recommends that City Council take another look at means to protect the magnolia tree in Pack Square due to the importance of the tree as an historical symbol to Asheville and because it is intended to be removed for private purposes versus public use.”

Click here to go to The Xpress Files and download a PDF of the commission’s letter.

— Rebecca Bowe, contributing editor

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3 thoughts on “Tree commission passes resolution to protect downtown-Asheville magnolia ***UPDATED WITH DOCUMENT**

  1. Sylvia

    The problem with the Parkside condo project is larger than losing a little public downtown green-space around one treasured magnolia. The maple (featured in the 2008 Quality Forward Tree Calendar) on the other side of the wall behind the magnolia is also threatened. Worse, the HVAC utility works for our Asheville City Building are also located in the path of this too large for the space project and (according to our city manager) will have to be re-located if this project is approved. The new location of the HVAC equipment will remove more of the open public space from our civic park.

    As elections are approaching, I hope that we all will remember the “mistakes” that our current County Commissioners made in approving this probably illegal sale of a corner of our public green in the first place. My folks raised me to acknowledge my mistakes, take steps to fix what I have done wrong, and if not possible to undo, at least take certain steps to see that an error like that does not happen again. I haven’t seen any of our Commissioners taking steps to fix this situation, or prevent the County from participating in bad deals like this in the future.

  2. “The ceremony was captured on a YouTube video ad that showed City Council candidate Elaine Lite taking part.”

    Yes, captured and embellished-upon by Richard Bernier.

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