Isaac Dickson parents and students protest Duke Energy substation

ANGRY WITH DUKE: Isaac Dickson Elementary parents and students protested in front of City Hall April 28 about the news of Duke Energy acquiring 17 acres of land around the new elementary school. It is unconfirmed whether Duke plans to build a new energy substation 200 feet from the school.

Duke Energy wants to put a new energy substation 300 feet away from a new LEED platinum-certified elementary school in Asheville, and parents say the mere idea of it will drive away students.

Duke hasn’t built a new electric substation in the city since 1976, and the one behind the U.S. Cellular Center has reached its capacity for transferring electricity, say Duke representative. The company owns 17 acres of land near the new Isaac Dickson Elementary school, which is being built in the Montford neighborhood.

The company has yet to decide where the 220-by-280-foot substation will be built, but parents at the school made it known at the April 28 City Council meeting that if it’s built, they’ll take their students out of the high-tech, environmentally friendly new school.

“If Duke is looking to blacken their eyes, putting a substation next to a LEED certified school is one way to do it,” said Council member Cecil Bothwell, who opposes the idea. “I applaud all of you standing up for this, keep going. I think it can be won.”

Dickson PTO co-president Angi Everett said the substation threatens the success of the school, which will be completed at the end of this year.

“We’d like to work with city officials to find a better site,” she said.

Several parents, including Everett, referenced electromagnetic fields as a possible cause of cancer, although data from the National Cancer Institute remains inconclusive. Parents gave City Council members 200 letters opposing the substation, which would open in 2018.

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer said the city has exhaustively looked for city-owned property an an alternative site, and come up dry. County land has yet to be explored. She met with Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good last week to talk about the issue.

“This is a continuing concern of ours in the community. We do use power. That’s not something that’s going to go away,” she said. “It’s not ideal to put a substation next to a school when you have a community that’s ready to pull their kids out of that school.”

In other news

• Zoning for the Beaucatcher Flats Apartment complex was approved on the condition that more sidewalks be built. Resident opposition to the 97-unit, 3.2 acre-site at 128 Florence Street boiled down to traffic concerns.

“I’m not against the development, but traffic directly impacts the safety of the residents in our shelter,” said April Burgess-Johnson, executive director of Helpmate, a crisis center for victims of domestic abuse located next to the site. “We’re housing the most endangered victims of the community, at the most dangerous time.”

• A decision to rescind the elimination of the downtown fare free zone for public transportation was approved. The matter will be referred to the Multimodal Transportation Commission for further discussion.

“The transit committee felt they didn’t have enough time to study this decision,” said Council member Gwen Wisler.

The fair-free zone is an area where riders don’t pay when they enter the bus, but are supposed to pay when exiting, if possible. The fees are to help with operations.

“The drivers were having a hard time managing it,” said Wisler.

The transit committee will come back to the City Council with a report or recommendation on the fares.


Action agenda:

The action agenda is intended to provide the reader with an overview of the council meeting and any decisions that were made. It does not provide action on ceremonial or non-substantive matters. THIS ACTION AGENDA IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY.

Authority to carry out actions related to any council decision should be obtained through normal departmental procedure. Please call the City Clerk’s office at 259-5601 if you have any questions.

Present: Mayor Esther E. Manheimer, Presiding; Vice-Mayor Marc H. Hunt; Councilman Cecil Bothwell; Councilman Jan B. Davis; Councilman Christopher A. Pelly; Councilman Gordon D. Smith; Councilwoman Gwen C. Wisler; City Manager Gary Jackson; City Attorney Robin T. Currin; and City Clerk Magdalen Burleson Absent: None


Resolution setting a public hearing on May 12, 2015, to consider an economic development incentive grant to support PolyLINKS Inc. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution setting a public hearing on May 12, 2015, to consider an economic development incentive grant to support the expansion of Hi-Wire Brewing. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution accepting W. Summit Avenue as a city-maintained street. Adopted Unanimously Resolution authorizing the possession and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages and/or unfortified wine at the following events: 1. Earth Fare 5K on May 9, 2015 Adopted Unanimously 2. Downtown After 5 on May 15, June 19, July 17, August 21, and September 18, 2015 Adopted Unanimously 3. Sunday Music in the Park on May 17, May 31, June 14, June 28, and July 12, 2015 Adopted Unanimously 4. Mountain Sports Festival on May 22, May 23 and May 24, 2015 Adopted Unanimously 5. Beer City Festival on May 30, 2015 Adopted Unanimously 6. Asheville Half Marathon on June 6, 2015 Adopted Unanimously 7. Race to the Taps on August 8, 2015 Adopted Unanimously 8. Organicfest on August 30, 2015 Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution authorizing the City Manager to convey an easement to Duke Energy Progress, Inc. over a portion of city-owned property on Thompson Street. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a professional agreement with Clark Nexsen, Inc., for architectural and engineering design services for the 200 Bingham Road project. Adopted Unanimously.

Ordinance to rescind the elimination of the Downtown Fare Free Zone and refer the action to the Multimodal Transportation Commission for further discussion. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute a change order to the contract with Johnson Price Sprinkle PA for the Asheville Police Department speed measuring instruments audit. Adopted Unanimously.

Budget amendment, in the amount of $13,190 in the General Capital Projects Fund, funded by debt proceeds, to reflect the cost sharing of a new vehicle purchase with Street Cut Enterprise Fund. Adopted Unanimously.

Budget amendment, in the amount of $1,000, from Humana, to support the cost of materials and supplies for the 2015 Asheville Buncombe Senior Games. Adopted Unanimously.

Legislative Update: Heard Update Public hearing to consider an amendment to the signage plan for Asheville Outlets, located Adopted 6-1 w/ at 800 Brevard Road, Asheville, N.C. Bothwell voting “no.”

Public hearing to consider the 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan for Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnership Act funds – Resolution approving the City’s Consolidated Strategic Housing and Community Development Plan for 2015-19. Adopted Unanimously.

Public hearing regarding the proposed Consolidated Action Plan for Fiscal Year 2015-16, which sets out the proposed use of federal Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnership Act funds for the coming fiscal year. – Resolution authorizing submission of the City’s Consolidated Annual Action Plan for 2015-16 to the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development. Adopted Unanimously.

Public hearing to consider the permanent closing of a portion of Bradley Street. Adopted Unanimously.

Public hearing to consider a conditional use permit for a 97 unit apartment building located at 128 and 99999 Florence Street. Adopted Unanimously.

Motion authorizing the Mayor to sign a letter to the WNC Regional Air Quality Board to strengthen the permit limit for sulfur dioxide (S02) to protect our community from the impacts of harmful air pollution. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution amending Resolution No. 06-55 regarding the City’s policy relating to claims and judgments sought or entered against City officers and employees. Adopted Unanimously.

Resolution appointing a member to the HUB Community Economic Development Alliance Board. Appted Adrian Vassallo & Kendra Penland.


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About Pat Barcas
Pat is a photojournalist and writer who moved to Asheville in 2014. He previously worked for a labor and social rights advocacy newspaper in Chicago. Email him at Follow me @pbarcas

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