Letter: Council should deny rezoning for Charlotte Street development

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Do the Killians think that the law doesn’t apply to them?

Twenty or so years ago, maybe about the time the Killian family began purchasing gorgeous side-by-side historic homes along Charlotte Street, the citizens of Asheville were busy at work, too. We knew development pressures were forthcoming, so we worked together to put protections in place, knowing that unbridled development would ruin our beautiful historic city.

The city staff, local businesses and residents created sustainable development plans: the Charlotte Street Corridor Plan and the Living Asheville Comprehensive Plan. The Charlotte Street Overlay District and the Charlotte Street Road Diet are also part of planning for the Charlotte corridor.

The enormous commercial development the Killians are proposing exceeds scale, height and density restrictions in place.

I received a full-color brochure in my mailbox sent out by the Killians to surrounding neighborhoods trying to convince us that they know what is best and are building this generic development for our own good. They falsely claim that the Preservation Society is blocking their plans: “If the PSABC restricts property rights and overrides planning goals, it will diminish the corridor’s potential and lead to worse outcomes for the city as a whole.”

The Preservation Society is not restricting anyone’s property rights! The zoning laws and city’s planning goals have long been in place; the Killians are trying to override them by getting the zoning laws changed for their own personal gain. Approving their request would be the worst outcome.

The brochure even warns us to be wary of “outside developers,” but they themselves don’t live here!

How could laws already in place, which we as citizens helped devise, be simply overridden? Plans agreed upon, in preparation for this exact scenario?

This should not even be going before Council. It is a waste of time and money and an insult to the citizens of Asheville. City Council, we demand that you comply with the Unified Development Ordinance and deny the Killians’ request for a conditional zoning permit.

— Julie Nelson

Editor’s note: Xpress contacted project spokesperson Jill Lieberman about the letter writer’s points, and we received the following response: “The Killian-RCG partnership is committed to developing the 101 Charlotte St. site and believes the project will benefit the city for generations to come. It is not unusual to request conditional zoning relief, and in this case, it will allow the density needed to maximize the open spaces, improve walkability, livability and access to multimodal transit, create much-needed new housing, including affordable options, and provide retail and office space for local small businesses. If City Council does not approve a variance, the plan is to build slightly smaller within the existing zoning but at a loss of almost all the public benefits. To be clear, the owners have the legal right to remove the homes at any time, and their demolition is not dependent on any city zoning approvals.

“The project is applying for a conditional rezoning to Mixed-Use Expansion District, which was part of the UDO at the time of its rezoning application. The Living Asheville Plan shows the property as ‘Traditional Corridor’ on the future land use map and states that Mixed-Use Expansion District is an appropriate zoning designation for that future land use. The project complies with all dimensional constraints for that designation. Any landowner in a similar location could also apply to rezone their site. Conditional zoning is a legislative process in the UDO under which the city and the property owner agree to place conditions on a project that benefit the public. It is a process used widely in the country to override antiquated base zoning designations that do not allow for the built environment to respond to today’s needs.”

On July 23, the developers announced that they had asked to postpone a conditional zoning hearing on the project until the Aug. 24 City Council meeting.


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One thought on “Letter: Council should deny rezoning for Charlotte Street development

  1. luther blissett

    The core of the response is correct: the conditional rezoning / variance process is no less “the law” than the zoning regulations themselves.

    Here’s why I’m ambivalent about 101 Charlotte: infill high-density mixed-use development is good. There should be more of it, because the alternatives are much much worse. The 101 Charlotte project checks those boxes but it’s pretty fugly and yeah, a little too big because the Killians want to extract every last cent from their property.

    But let’s not kid ourselves here: the preservationists / NIMBYs have shown they care way more about trees and old houses than people because people can be rude and have disagreeable opinions but trees and houses can’t be rude and don’t have opinions. Their proposal to refurbish the existing houses to make them fancy and unaffordable strongly suggests that they would make a fuss about dense infill mixed-used development even if it were less fugly and smaller.

    In an ideal world, both sides would lose.

    But again: the campaign to preserve the historic legacy of the Fuddruckers will something to behold.

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