Letter: Asheville area’s boom is ruining quality of life

Graphic by Lori Deaton

It seems finally the rapid, unchecked development/housing boom we have been experiencing here in and around Asheville has become enough of a concern that it’s filling letters, commissioner and city meetings, campaign rhetoric, articles and so forth. I just read “Cutting Through the Clamor: Asheville Needs Less Shouting, More Listening,” [June 16, Xpress]. Oh what a levelheaded, community building, let’s-make-everybody-happier approach Ms. Liss offers.

What she seems to be ignorant about and why “people are screaming at officials” is the fact that the cards aren’t stacked fairly. Ultimately, favoritism is handed toward developers and bottom lines, while major impacting projects are slipped past under the radar. People don’t get a fair chance to oppose such, let alone win.

Another letter spoke of how south and east of Asheville were filled up, but there was still room here to the north [“Hoping That Asheville Isn’t ‘Sold Out,’” June 16, Xpress]. Well. Not for long, at the rate Weaverville is booming. I have owned my little acre for 31 years now. Worked really hard pouring my money, love and sweat into it. Raised my daughter here. Buried 10 pets over the years. Planted trees, shrubs and flowers. Many slow-growing wildflowers. Built my fabulous studio. Not something I can easily walk away from. (Plus, I’m old now.)

Last year, 12 houses went in at the beginning of my road. One was built directly across from my neighbor friends. The new neighbors put up a tall privacy fence that completely blocks the view of the sunsets my friends once enjoyed on their little porch. Now the new house has the view. The owners are oblivious of what they ruined. Four other houses have gone in. Two directly above and behind me are being constructed as I type. The deer I enjoyed left. The top of the hill was bulldozed and carved up, and only one ancient oak remains. I think. There were four. My peace has been shattered, and I worry houses will go in right next to me. I need these woods. Not more people. I have valid concerns for my old well, which is only 90 feet deep.

Driving to Asheville for work, I’m experiencing the same traffic gridlocks mentioned in still another letter [“Dense Development Will Ruin Asheville Forever,” June 9, Xpress], and now I avoid downtown at all costs. It’s painful watching tourists with their bags stepping over homeless people as if they aren’t there. I moved here in ’83 when downtown was dead. I was happy to see the renovations and vibrancy when it first started to be revived. But now it’s gone the way of faux hip for the well-to-do. And even the RAD is pricing out the very artists that turned it in to something to begin with.

Weaverville is bumper to bumper on its two main roads. With apartments, condos and subdivisions going in everywhere. Great job, Weaverville! You were my alternative place to run errands to Asheville. Now where?

What’s being done to farmlands and mountains here is irreversible. It will come back to bite us. With more droughts, flash floods and water issues. Mudslides, too. My home that I have loved so dearly is being inundated, and quality of life ruined before my eyes. My little sanctuary that brought me escape and peace violated. While houses go up with no regard how they affect their neighbors.

Yeah, people are screaming. They tried following the rules to get their voices heard and have been mostly ignored. Time and again, our local politicians sell out. It’s not an even playing field. And. It’s not sustainable. The fragile ecology of WNC will be devoured. By ever-increasing human numbers and the climate change they cause. And I feel utterly helpless as I watch it all unfold.

— Troy Amastar



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9 thoughts on “Letter: Asheville area’s boom is ruining quality of life

  1. Westworld Employee7

    Hendersonville is similarly being destroyed. The only ones benefitting are the developers building their insta-ghettos and the politicians they’ve clearly paid off! No trees! Dead animals everywhere!

    Why do developers matter more than current residents?

  2. luther blissett

    I’m deeply sympathetic towards the letter-writer, but what I’d ask is this: when you are no longer with us — which I hope is not for a long time — what will happen to your acre? Will you donate it to a nature conservancy or place a covenant on it, or will you trust that your heirs (and their heirs) will preserve it?

    Those houses built on your road or at the top of the hill? Someone sold the developer that land or the development rights. Maybe you knew that person, or that person’s heirs. Maybe it was inherited by someone who lives far away or sold by the owner to pay for elder care. I know an older gentleman who lived in a manufactured home on two acres, and selling his land to developers allowed him to move to somewhere much more comfortable and low-maintenance to spend his final years. At some point land can stop being a joy and become a burden with a monetary value. That’s the backstory of so many development projects in the unincorporated county.

    Developers don’t acquire land or the right to build on land by magic. Someone sells them it.

    • Lou

      Yep and AirBnB’s don’t just appear by magic. I was walking in a local neighborhood the other day and saw the owner out in front of her house, which had a for sale sign. I asked her what she wanted for the home and she said it had already sold to a buyer who intended to make it an AirBnb. When I expressed how sad it was that so many homes in the area were meeting the same fate, she admitted that she could have sold it to a local buyer for less, but “this is my retirement” so she took the best offer. There you go. It’s all about ME ME ME and everybody else can suck it. People are selfish creatures.

    • Phillip Williams

      I don’t usually agree with you on very much but I have said it for the past several decades – folks are only able to buy it because other folks are willing to sell it…..same story all across the country, be it a family farm or an established store or eatery – the old folks worked themselves into extinction by sending their kids off to school so they could have it a little better – and the places that they put blood and sweat and toil into vanished because the next generation had no interest in running a restaurant or selling hardware or running a dairy….

  3. WNC

    Interesting how you would want to have Your own house and expect all adjoining land owners to donate their land to a community park. You should be able to sell your home move 5-7 minutes and buy a comparable home for 70-75 % of your proceeds.
    OR if your acre is of halfway reasonable topography you could remove the house and divide the acre into several small lots and sell each of them for about $120,000.- (or more).
    I guess most of us would really like it if all our neighbors do a conservation easement, (including me).

  4. Enlightened Enigma

    These kinds of letters are so amusing to read … development has not even started yet around here but may be stunted by inept controllers as the world discovers how dangerous city and county officials really ARE. Most people like their property values increasing, right ?

    • bsummers

      OK, Fred “Fisher” Caudle, I’ll bite. How dangerous ARE city and county officials?

  5. Peter Gordon

    We often, and more frequently, see these emotional appeals to preserve things the way they are. The way that is done is by individuals or governments buying the properties and devoting them to parks or other open spaces. If you buy a property because it has great, unobstructed views then you should understand that others own the view that you enjoy and have as much right to exploit that for their own purposes as you. It is common for people to get to an area where they enjoy living and wish that it will never change and even go so far as passing laws to restrict others from moving to the area by limiting the rights of existing property owners. This is called a taking under law when you restrict the rights of others in how they can use their properties. According to the US Constitution there should be fair compensation for the loss of those existing property rights. But we never see anyone suggesting that the city or county or state buy the development rights or the property. Instead we create private conservation groups (tax exempt) to use tax deductible donations to buy the properties and remove them from the tax rolls. But that is an expensive process and is relatively small and ultimately ineffective. So enjoy your scenic pleasures while they last and be grateful you were able to do so before development became economically attractive.

  6. MEC

    The same 5 guys – same comments – same result. Nothing. Bye bye (X) Press!

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