Letter: Board evades responsibility with rezoning vote

Graphic by Lori Deaton

On Tuesday, Dec 5, about 80 people, most in their 20s and 30s, showed up outside the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting with signs and pots and pans, clamoring to be heard. The board was having a public hearing and vote on a Biltmore Farms rezoning request for over 450 acres.

Three hundred forty-five of those acres, now beautifully forested land, were earmarked for further industrial development on the Biltmore Farms property, following up on the 100 acres given for the Pratt & Whitney plant three years ago. CEO Jack Cecil has said that he wants to have more aerospace industry on this land, and the Chamber of Commerce has said it is actively recruiting for such corporations.

What our community does not need is more wealth extraction by war industries. We can get more and better jobs by investing in virtually any other sector than the military-industrial complex.

We also don’t need to be even more engaged with an industry that needs war to sell its products and that is currently profiting from the horrific genocide in Gaza.

Young people have connected these dots and are angry at those making the secret deals that cause such death and destruction abroad and lost opportunities here at home. Many of them came inside to the meeting to voice their opposition to the zoning request.

Palestine was at the top of their minds, but they made clear how our local decision-making, in the name of economic development, has become a part of the killing there. Pratt & Whitney makes the engines for the F-16s and F-35s Israel is using on Gaza.

And they insisted that this complicity stop.

Did the Board of Commissioners listen and act on behalf of their informed and passionate constituents? Not a chance. They voted unanimously to approve the Biltmore Farms request. Chairman Brownie Newman said they didn’t have a choice; they were only following the prescribed zoning norms. But that is a self-serving evasion of their responsibility as elected officials. They had a vote in the matter and took a side.

The lesson learned? Public hearings, supposedly a safeguard for democratic decision-making, are a sham. The rich rule.

Ken Jones


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3 thoughts on “Letter: Board evades responsibility with rezoning vote

  1. indy499

    Ken, you are a 1 beat drummer in a tiny band. The council should never base their vote on what a handful of zealots want. The council represents 250,000 people not a handful who go to some meeting.

  2. Prop Joe

    I do enjoy the elaborate tales spun by Ken and Co 😍. You’re not quite at Bill’s level of dramatic flair but keep up the good work. I can’t wait to hear from the rest of your group on this very shocking development.

  3. Hiram

    And when someone wants to build a ball bearing factory that also manufactures bullets for AR-15s used to mow down school children and holiday shoppers? Will we hand over millions in tax dollars then too?

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