Letter: Developers, breweries and hoteliers come first

Graphic by Lori Deaton

It’s not rocket science, folks. A perfect storm of developers in a frenzy to cash in on a city run amok with breweries, one restaurant after another, sometimes several on the same block. A complacent or compliant, take your pick, City Council and a development lawyer as mayor, a City Council that basically goes along to get along, pays little or no attention to the complaints from concerned citizens in those neighborhoods affected by the impact of the changes they approve. Why? Because the first seat at the table belongs to developers, breweries and hoteliers.

So apartment complex after apartment complex will be plugged into any and every space that’s not already occupied. To people affected by the decisions of the mysterious “staff,” the Board of Adjustment and all the various departments, including Buncombe County: Sorry, this is progress, and if you’re waiting for this present political cabal of bad actors to act any differently than the ones in Washington, if you think that at some point they are going to behave like genuine stewards of this natural resource, never going to happen.

If these projects ran through The Ramble or Biltmore, these issues would not be up for discussion. So in the name of progress, neighborhoods are being displaced, communities’ concerns are being ignored, and the people charged to serve the greater good have given over to the avarice of so-called “progress.” I believe there is a “law of diminishing returns,” and people will see through the vulgarization of Asheville at some point and vote out the people who allowed it to happen.

— Jesse Junior

Editor’s note: Xpress contacted the mayor and members of Asheville City Council for a response to a summary of the letter writer’s points. Council member Vijay Kapoor offered the following statement, noting that he was speaking for himself, not the entire Council: “Though Asheville City Council is constrained by laws passed by the North Carolina General Assembly as to the development restrictions we can implement, Council has taken steps to ensure that neighborhoods have input into development, including requiring developers to meet with affected neighbors before any project is approved. This has allowed for community input and has also resolved many potential issues. In my view, the city and Buncombe County need to do a better job coordinating development in areas that border the city, since the county has less restrictive development rules than the city and does not require developers to meet with affected neighbors. I will be working hard this year to try to make that happen.”


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24 thoughts on “Letter: Developers, breweries and hoteliers come first

  1. B.E.Vickroy

    A suggestion for what its worth …. take up a collection and send the entire Council for a nice visit to Southern California. It is a developer’s playground. Freeways galore. Strip malls everywhere. And a population that grows by 10mil. a decade, requires more cement and asphalt infrastructure & of course more AFFORDABLE HOUSING to squeeze in each decades millions. Best of all, enough dirty air to make a growth-mavin swoon with delight. [the developers who spoil and run just move to the next unspoiled green place [with a ‘reasonable’ Council] and start all over.]

    Your Council will either stay in development nirvana, or they will come home dedicated greenie tree-huggers. How do I know this? My beautiful Golden State has been destroyed housing development by housing development. And the folks who have objected at squandering of nature’s IRREPLACEABLE beauty, have been relegated as nitwits and worse.

    But had our leaders had a California as an example of what NOT to do, [as yours do] they might have chosen a different path. Sadly, even with California’s example, I see these beautiful Ozarks “progressing” down that same asphalt-lined path. I will have shuffled off this mortal coil before PROGRESS goes past the point of no return.

  2. boatrocker

    Rampant over development here? Check.
    Conservative free market capitalism gone wild? Check.
    Complacent/compliant? Check, though the LTE writer
    left out complicit.

    We done fouled our own nest.

    • Enlightened Enigma

      sorry, but I just don’t see ‘over development’ around here…not even close…and the pathetic road systems not sure it will ever be ‘over developed’ …

      • B.E.Vickroy

        Since I’m writing from far away … can only extrapolate from my own experience. Maybe keeping your roads ‘pathetic’ is a good idea … if you don’t build it they won’t come. I just know that in CA every time we improved the roads and built another freeway, in a few years the traffic was just as severe as ever. My work drive [Escondido to San Diego] about 30 miles took 2 HOURS each way. [among other contributing factors to my getting out of Dodge] I’m sure I lost a few brain cells with that drive. Anyway, sure wish you folks well. And BTW by the time a development gets to the planning commission, it is ALREADY too late to take effective action.

        The ‘dead white men’ who started this ball rolling, had it right about ETERNAL VIGILANCE BEING THE PRICE OF LIBERTY… which means **habitually** attending council and commission and board meetings. I suppose that the agenda is now online, so U know ahead of time what is going to be acted on & gives you time to alert like-minded folks to write, phone, talk to media, speak at open mic ….and in my experience, meeting with the council members a few time a year helps them to know you and you to know them. Best of luck.

        • Lulz

          They tried that with I-26 and the Smokey Park Bridge. Now it’s a parking lot for a good part of the day.

          Tennessee had the i-26 connector completed years before NC. These tools around here new that the traffic was going to increase because of it. All they did was stand in the way to delay modernizing it as long as possible. It’s like downtown with its old buildings. If people knew just how disgusting some of them are, they wouldn’t eat there.

          • Jay Reese

            Widening roads is not modernizing the system. Adding active transit infrastructure is the future.

        • Jay Reese

          Thank you for your validation of the concept of Induced Demand. It should be obvious to everyone building more roads only encourages more driving.

          • B.E.Vickroy

            Hi Jay — As to ‘induced demand’ – sigh – until the CAUSE of the increased demand is identified, all the efforts are vain. The population of our country has grown by 200 million in my lifetime [1937-2018]

            Between 1937 & 1960 51.9 mil // 1960 & 1980 45.8 mil // 1980 & 2000 56 mil. // 2000 & 2018 46 mil. Current population 328,026,343

            Put another way – look at the PopClock to see the population growth per second. https://www.census.gov/popclock/
            * BIRTH – 1 every 8 seconds
            *DEATH – 1 every 12 seconds
            *INTERNATIONAL MIGRANT [net] 1 every 29 seconds
            **NET GAIN – 1 every 12 seconds

            Consider that each of those millions represent a demand for more infrastructures [physical, social, cultural] So, for all my ‘wise advice’ [experience], I’m not optimistic that even the most sincere, determined, and dedication local or national activism will be able to stem the tide of development. UNLESS & UNTIL we FEARLESSLY identify the causes for that DEMAND. In other words, BECAUSE they ARE coming, we MUST build. [hospitals & schools, at least, to maintain the standards we expect & realistically– roads, housing, and shops as well] And we appear to be falling behind in the infrastructure departments. And the Melting Pot [social, cultural infrastructure] hasn’t been working, as it once did, for a long time.

            But putting these figures forward – in attempt to curtail ALL immigration for a period of time, will raise such a cry *WE*ARE*A*NATION*OF*IMMIGRANTS*” – that effective change has slim chance. Sorry to be so negative. But you see the emotion-driven [not fact based] well-organized demonstrations nation-wide. It would take a strong, clear-eyed, valiant Congress to withstand these pressures and do as our grandfathers did, and give the melting pot a chance by slowing immigration to a trickle for a time. And I see no such Congress today.

          • Jay Reese

            My concern is how people are transported around our communities, not about how many of us there are or where we came from. Good design can handle population growth. That is why we need to reduce the number of single occupant gas powered vehicles from the roadways and replace it with sustainable active transit.

          • B.E.Vickroy

            A few more bits of [seemingly endless] data.
            In 1930 there were 23 million cars on US roads
            In 2016 there were 319.7 million
            1.2 miles of road for every square mile of land area

            And even with increased public transit, the population juggernaut will still increase other infrastructure demands on our open [uncultivated] lands. As for cultivated acres, in CA, the great Central Valley – bread basket to the nation – is being ‘developed’ at an alarming rate to accommodate a population that increases by 10 million at every census. The ‘solution’ is to buy more of our food supply from outside our borders. History has shown that a nation that cannot provide its own food supply is at the mercy of those who do.
            I can hardly wait for “and Chicken Little said……”

          • B.E.Vickroy

            Jay – It seems likely that we are not going to agree on this issue. I say “population increase”, you say “good design.”

            At its best, public transportation is as reliable as driving & less stressful. Most American cities fall well short of that ideal, however. CONSIDER: The average auto drive time to work in the 15 major US cities is 63 hours per year. These would be the cities with the best planned rapid transit system. “Good design can handle population growth. ” Sounds good in theory,but is not being born out in practice.

            For example: The Bay Area Rapid Transit [BART] has excellent *design* and is ranked among the most effective in the nation. But in spite of the good planning and design – CONSIDER:
            80.9% of daily commute is by auto. – 9.7% is by public transport. Something is not working as one might hope. Did I mention that CA’s population grows by10 million a decade? It appears to outstrip “good planning”.

          • Jay Reese

            Calm down Mr Malthus. You must be young or just ignorant of the failed attempts at population control. We live in a Capitalist Society that must grow to succeed. I am not saying I like it but that is the reality. We can control population growth slightly through taxation, family planning, more women in the workplace, ect. But any direct intrusion into population control would be disastrous.

            We have plenty examples of highly populated cities that flourish due to proper design. Humans have survived this long because we are adaptive.

  3. Tsalagi Sister

    Haha.. Just like back in 1838, development runs the locals out.
    My ancestors were forced marched to Oklahoma.
    I’ve got zero sympathy for the whites.
    Karma ran over your oblivious dogma.
    Just desserts

    • boatrocker

      The sons and daughters of Tsali are laughing for sure.
      I read a book about the Trail of Tears in high school where one
      quote stood out- somebody told the soldiers (paraphrased)
      “may you choke on your own excess”-

      like Malcolm X’s famous quote-
      “the chickens have come home to roost”.

      • Tsalagi Sister

        Yes.. It’s been an amazing journey accidentally moving to my ancestors area.
        Learn more watching the excess of the privileged, than I ever did having them for parents.
        That quote is true.. Think it was “May you choke on enough”

    • Bill

      I’ve got zero sympathy for the Tsali as well. Glad we’re on the same page.

      • boatrocker

        Whoa there, don’t paint me with your GED brush.
        If you weren’t aware, Tsali was a he, not a them and the leader of what are now the Eastern Band of the Cherokee. Pre- hostilities/removal they told the choke on your excess curse thing to occupying American troops.

  4. luther blissett

    “If these projects ran through The Ramble or Biltmore, these issues would not be up for discussion.”

    It’s almost as if Biltmore Forest is a separate municipality.

    • Bill

      They are a separate municipality. They are smart people who know how to protect their investment and interests.

      • luther blissett

        That was the joke.

        (Biltmore Forest shouldn’t exist as a distinct municipality. It’s a glorified subdivision governed by a glorified HOA.)

    • boatrocker

      The highest bidders being the ones who voted for unlimited campaign $ and
      clout to put the Koch (oops I mean Koch Bros.) into elections.
      That almost sounded naughty.

    • Tsalagi Sister

      Being exactly correct word.
      Only in Asheville can reporting sexually based crime, get you arrested. Elite whites really seem to have no morals or ethics.
      It’s all about power, money and control.
      People who cannot empathize shouldn’t rule.

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