Letter: Neighbors should have say in land use

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I am writing to express grave concern regarding the potential rezoning of 6 acres of land in Asheville bordering Woodfin to multiuse high density.

I am a resident of the Richmond Hill neighborhood and have been for the past 10 years. My husband and I moved to Asheville in 2009 after going to graduate school and wanting to settle in an area that values the beauty and necessity of wild spaces for people’s mental and physical health.

We bought our home on Richmond Hill Drive after renting for a year and a half, knowing that we wanted to live here for a very long time. We both attained jobs in community mental health, using our degrees to help support those with some of the highest mental health needs in our area. In 2015, we had a daughter, making us further appreciate the quiet and safety of our neighborhood. We looked forward to her growing older and more independent, getting to walk and bicycle down to the park to explore the wild spaces on her own. She is now a kindergartner at Isaac Dickson.

This dream is now in danger. Although Asheville is constantly being sold as a beautiful outdoors paradise, the city and county continue to sell more and more of its wild outdoor spaces to developers. These developers cut down trees, raze the land and demolish natural wildlife habitats. They increase vehicle use, add light pollution and overcrowding. Being in nature is a balm, a soothing healing.

In addition, the added traffic from this development [would be] dangerous. Pearson Bridge Road and Richmond Hill Drive are not equipped for the increase in vehicular traffic that will result from adding over 1,500 homes and their cars to the area. As the developer, John Holdsworth, must get permission from Silverline to build a bridge directly to the development from Riverside Drive, traffic concerns are legitimate. With traffic lights and turn lanes, this neighborhood shifts from just that, a neighborhood, to an urban egress.

We chose to buy our homes in this neighborhood and should have a voice in how the land is used. Please consider our and our neighbors’ thoughts and ideas on this matter.

— Katie Clay-Wakefield


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.

9 thoughts on “Letter: Neighbors should have say in land use

  1. Mike

    In 2017, the average US household made 5 one-way trips per day (https://www.energy.gov/eere/vehicles/articles/fotw-1041-august-6-2018-households-take-fewer-vehicle-trips-2017). 5 one-way trips equals a vehicle coming to or going from each household 10 times per day. Using those numbers, the proposed development of 1500 households would add 15,000 cars daily (not including deliveries, work crews, etc.) to Riverside or Richmond Hill Drive. In what world can these two-lane roads, one of which is through an established residential area and neither of which has space to add lanes, accommodate another 15,000 vehicles per day?

  2. NFB

    The letter writer seems to be conveying that it was perfectly OK for her to move to Asheville but now that she is here it is time to shut the door behind her. The reason this project has been proposed it that other people are doing what she has done — moving to Asheville and they need places to live. I’m not unsympathetic to many of her concerns, but her expression of some of them come across as being unable to see the irony behind them.

    • Robert McGee

      NFB is totally missing the point! The proposed Bluffs mega development would not simply provide housing on some easily accessible piece of land. The project is not merely ‘another development’ but essentially an entire town being plopped down beside the French Broad River and jammed into a corner of one of the few affordable neighborhoods we have left. The Bluffs would impact roads and communities without the proper infrastructure. Richmond Hill Drive already absorbs traffic to long-time home owners, the WNC Rest Home, Richmond Hill Park, and the National Guard Armory. While I have no doubt that the developer intends to build ‘quality’ condos, adding the volume of traffic the Bluffs would bring is not a ‘quality’ solution to creating homes for present or future residents. It would wreck the ‘quality’ of life for so many in our beautiful area for years to come. It would be criminal to allow such an atrocity.

  3. Yep

    The County and City “don’t sell land to developers”….it’s existing private landowners that sell property. Understandably upsetting….but “someones” quality of life and quite respite was destroyed by all the neighborhoods built in Asheville. This isn’t in Sandy Mush, Gerton, or Barnardsville. It’s literally surrounded by the city limits of Woodfin and Asheville with water and sewer service.

    • Enlightened Enigma

      Exactly, Yep…apparantly this guy has assembled quite a piece of buildable land in a desireable location by the river … It’s an exciting project for that sleepy part of town!

  4. indy499

    Sorry letter writer Katie. No one guaranteed your dream. You don’t own adjacent land. You didn’t buy view rights. What in the world led you to comclude nothing would change?

    Where are the 40 million people the US will grow by in the next 30 years supposed to live? Just somewhere else, right?

    • Fin Smudder

      I totally agree with you. When I hear this kind of opposition to a landowner’s decision to develope land, I wonder why the opponents haven’t bought the land? Or at least help out with property taxes, if they’d like to have a say. The expectation that nothing will change is unrealistic.

  5. Mike

    I absolutely support the right of property owners to develop their own land- within reason.

    I also believe it is the role of local government to safeguard the public good- within reason.

    The size and scope of this development is not reasonable. Maybe folks don’t understand what’s being proposed. It’s the equivalent of a second Biltmore Park being built on the site, doubling the population of Woodfin. Think about how Skyland has had to change to accommodate Biltmore Park. Long Shoals was expanded to 5 lanes; there’s no room to do that on Riverside. The I-26 interchange had to be rebuilt; there is no near direct access interchange to rebuild for this development. New schools have been constructed, fire and police departments expanded, and now I-26 is undergoing a massive overhaul. How would this size of development affect the plans for re-doing the 19/23/I-26/Patton avenue etc. interchange?

    Answers to how these issues, and many more, would be addressed, and who pays for the ancillary costs of the development, all should be demanded before a project of this scope is approved.

    • Robert McGee

      Mike is right! And some of the other flippant comments are just that: flippant, completely deluded and, really, downright shameful. To anyone who would like to comment: please review what is being proposed before voicing your opinion. It would be an absolute crime to allow The Bluffs in its current form to go forward. Any local politician who does not step forward to ensure that proper environmental and traffic studies are conducted must be considered complicit in this violent act against our community and the river. Many in the Richmond Hill neighborhood have politely invited local leaders to come up to Richmond Hill and take a look only to be told that it’s not in their jurisdiction. Shame on them all if thousands of cars are allowed to travel a peaceful neighborhood street without the proper infrastructure. Since when does integrity to do the right thing have a jurisdiction? We’ve recently learned that we must fight for our Democracy, and now we will fight to protect our homes. Please contact City Councilwomen of Asheville and all Council Members of the Town of Woodfin and implore them to get this right.

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.