Letter: Let’s discuss principles for land use and development

Graphic by Lori Deaton

On Dec. 16, a small group of local citizens representing Reject Raytheon AVL went to the Biltmore Farms LLC office in Biltmore Park. We delivered a letter signed by 40 of us asking CEO Jack Cecil for a meeting to discuss his plans for the development of 900 of his privately held acres.

Our understanding is that he has been working with the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce to follow up the recent establishment of the Pratt & Whitney plant with a full-fledged aerospace industrial park.

In this day and age, the aerospace industry is an integral part of the military-industrial complex, heavily fueling the climate emergency and making enormous profits from the business of war.

Reject Raytheon AVL finds these plans completely antithetical to the idea of working toward a peaceful, just and sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. It is this that we want to discuss with Mr. Cecil. This was our third attempt to have a meeting with him about it.

In our letter, we listed the following nine principles we have formulated for local land use devoted to economic development in Western North Carolina:

1. Commit to just, equitable and sustainable development that prioritizes the needs of communities of color and other historically marginalized and disenfranchised people.

2. Mitigate the climate emergency.

3. Protect the Earth by exceeding the state environmental protections regarding water, air and soil quality, and maintaining green spaces.

4. Oppose recruitment of and investment in war or fossil fuel corporations.

5. Invest public money equitably in local and regional businesses, not multinational corporations.

6. Generate jobs with a living wage that guarantee workers’ right to organize.

7. Focus on essential community needs, such as deeply affordable housing, health care, education, social services, infrastructure and renewable energy.

8. Hold new industries accountable to the community by requiring contributions to essential community needs in exchange for tax incentives.

9. Make no secret deals — engage the public in meaningful and transparent decision making from the very beginning of the economic development process.

Once again, we have received no response from Mr. Cecil. It is time for a wider community discussion about this. If interested in having this discussion, please contact rejectraytheonavl@protonmail.com.

— Ken Jones

Editor’s note: Xpress reached out to Jack Cecil with a summary of the letter writer’s points but did not receive a response.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

2 thoughts on “Letter: Let’s discuss principles for land use and development

  1. WNC

    If the Ukrainians present these 9 principals to Russia it would bring an end to the aggressions of the Russian military and their military complex. Right.

  2. James

    I applaud your effort, but the key words in your letter are at the end of your first paragraph: “privately held.”
    You don’t have a say in what he does with Biltmore land. Take it up with the industry.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.