Letter: North Asheville neighborhood is wrong place for apartments

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I live in North Asheville off Aiken Road in a small, quiet neighborhood of mostly retired folks who have lived here for 40-plus years.

Country Oak Drive is a wooded, private road with a few houses and people who keep to themselves. Country Oak borders my lane with woods, which are a habitat for birds, black bear and deer.

I am deeply horrified to learn that Hathaway Development, a non-Asheville developer from Atlanta, wants to put a high-density apartment complex on 29 acres on Country Oak.

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, at noon they are asking the Buncombe County [Board of Adjustment] to approve this project.

I have lived in Buncombe County since 1977 and vote for commissioners who I know will look out for us. But do they?

Aiken Road is, unfortunately, one of the worst roads in the county. People speed, and it is already congested, especially when Thermo Fisher lets out.

This is not the right place to drop in 300 apartments. We are terrified.

The population density of our 28804 area is 750 persons per square mile (2016 census). Hathaway proposes to erect a 300-unit complex on 29 acres. That’s about 30,000 persons per square mile. If they succeed, it will start an avalanche of more high-density apartment complexes in our area.

… Remember, this land is home to black bear and deer, foxes and other wildlife.

The number of apartments will bring between 1,000 to 1,500 people who are not property owners and who will only stay an average of one to two years. So, lots of turnover.

That number of apartment dwellers means another thousand vehicles on Aiken Road, New Stock and Merrimon, not to mention other streets and I-26. This will aggravate driving conditions even more.

The correct use of this property would be single-family homes in keeping with the character of the neighborhood. However, we know we can’t depend on our elected officials to do the right thing.

Collectively, we can protect our neighborhood, our investments and our property values before it’s too late.

The Buncombe County [Board of Adjustment] meeting is Wednesday, Nov. 8, at noon at 30 Valley St., Asheville.

— Marilyn Ball


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.

25 thoughts on “Letter: North Asheville neighborhood is wrong place for apartments

  1. bsummers

    I suppose I sympathize in general.

    That being said, Marilyn is one of those who are all about pumping up how great Asheville is, through books, radio, and her own marketing business. I don’t know how much sympathy I have for the fact that a developer wants to build apartments near her to house some of the swarm of new people she helped attract here.

    “With 20+ years of marketing and communication experience in the tourism, economic development and hospitality industries, Marilyn helped formulate collaborative initiatives that stimulated economic development and created a sense of community throughout Western North Carolina.”

    • The Real World

      Well indeed; she’s got a lot of nerve.

      Now, if we can only get the extraordinary hypocrisy of many more people exposed for all to see……our wonderful country can rocket to the Moon. There is hope……both Donna Brazile and Steve Bannon are leading the way in shining big spotlights on the hypocrites of both parties and the swamp is beginning to drain.

      Cleaning-up Asheville’s swamp can only be a good thing too. (Bye, Wanda Greene and son) Onward!

      • bsummers

        Yes, the Trumpists will rip America out by the roots and maroon us on an airless rock in the cold of space. Thanks for that.

        Now, back on topic maybe?

        • The Real World

          As you know, I was addressing the topic of hypocrisy, as accurately introduced in relation to the letter. It is a systemic and epidemic problem, nationwide. We can hardly move forward until it is substantially exposed.

          Trump (you forgot to include Russia! in your comment, as well) has nothing to do with this letter and little do with others who are engaging in rooting out hypocritical politicians, their compliant media hacks and other hangers-on of some influence.

          The ultimate irony is that the person who introduced the hypocrisy theme here has hypocritically inferred that there need not be any further comment on that topic. Simply priceless.

  2. luther blissett

    “The number of apartments will bring between 1,000 to 1,500 people who are not property owners”

    Heaven forfend.

    “Collectively, we can protect our neighborhood, our investments and our property values”

    Looking at the GIS records, it appears that this parcel was owned by an Asheville native who lived elsewhere and passed away recently, and that person’s heirs have presumably either decided to sell the property or allow developers to build on it. Your neighbors (or their non-Asheville heirs) are eventually going to sell up when the price is right, because the county is not going to stop approving 299-unit complexes just over the city limits. If it’s not in this spot, it’ll be somewhere else.

    I don’t like seeing woodland and truly undeveloped property being leveled and turned into apartments (or McMansions). But the only way for you and your neighbors to protect that parcel is to buy it and place it under a conservation easement with the assistance of a group like the SAHC.

  3. Jason

    GET OVER yourself NORTH Asheville! Talk about an entitlement mentality….. “we’re old, we’re retired, we’re horrified!” Give me a break! move to Sincair, Maine if never want to see people and live like GRIZZLY Adams…Apartment buildings are going up everywhere in Asheville and North Asheville isnt considered the ELITISTS part of town anymore; no matter what your realtor told you before you bought the house. We’re ALL upset that Asheville isnt what it used to be 10 years ago, but we (non locals) are ALL to blame! BOO HOO! I’m glad your neck of the woods is seeing SHANTY TOWN/MASS growth like every other part of Asheville is…..

    • NFB

      It’s not even north Asheville. It is past Woodfin on the way to Weaverville. It isn’t even in the city limits which is why it is the COUNTY that will be giving its approval or disapproval.

      • NFB

        Well, it’s about damn time!

        But hey, maybe this sock puppet will be better. I mean he actually does have a point this go around. I would love to hear the letter writer explain how it is OK for her to make moola off of promoting Asheville was the ultimate Shangra-la but NOT for those people she promotes it to, to move in next to her.

          • NFB

            Can’t say I’ve had that (dis)pleasure, but there’s a first time for everything, right?

          • Enlightened Enigma

            I own several properties , which one do you mean ?

  4. James Cassara

    I find it amazing (and hypocritical) how many folks who are horrified at Trump wanting to build a wall (as well they should be) want to build virtual walls to exclude those wanting to move here. Asheville is going to continue to grow; yes, we can and should manage that growth but with an understanding that we cannot stem the tide.

    • Alan Ditmore

      This is textbook elite NIMBYist liberal fake environmentalism which is intentionally designed in a conspiracy to cause homelessness and destroy the planet. The author lies when she claims dense apartments cuae traffic when they actually reduce traffic by increasing the ability to walk, bike, bus and carpool. These people would otherwise have to live in Canton and commute in, requiring 20 miles of 8 lane highway. Gee, which would kill more wildlife? and who doesn’t know it already? Single family homes also kill far more wildlife than apartments so the author is intentionally deceiving us purely in the admitted interest of evil speculation.

  5. It would make sense to me for people to address these issues in the zoning meeting where they could argue the land should only allow single family homes. It seems unfair to the developer to invest is time in land that is zoned for their intended purpose only to have a bunch of NIMBY’s delay the deal.

    • luther blissett

      That area is zoned R-3, which allows planned-unit development (apartments) with a conditional zoning permit. Even if the conditional use permit were denied, R-3 allows much denser single-family units — 12 units per acre, a minimum lot size of under a quarter-acre if there’s a sewer line — than exist in that neighborhood, where most of the lots are an acre.

      We’ve seen this in Arden and Candler and Reynolds and Fairview and Riceville and Swannanoa and now we’re seeing it in the sliver between Woodfin and Weaverville. The county can’t specify acre-lot zoning on anything other than R-LD, which is reserved for the real boonies without utility access. It can’t mandate “build to the prevailing lot size of the surrounding residential areas” because in most places there are a few property owners who’ve subdivided their lots or want to subdivide them. The NIMBY complaints won’t go away if it’s dense subdivision-style single-family housing on quarter-acre lots, even though we know the subtext of “apartment dwellers” and “not property owners” and “protect our neighborhood”.

      I don’t like seeing these kinds of developments proposed for undeveloped woodland even if it’s not in my own backyard — they’re not being proposed as any real investment in the area, just as a way to maximize profits from the land sale — but once again, the only way to protect those parcels with any certainty is to buy them when they go on the market.

      • Alan Ditmore

        If you don’t like high density construction then you must like homelessness because that is the only possible alternative, in addition to sprawl and long commutes that kill wildlife.

        • James Cassara

          As I have long said, Asheville is either going to grow more densely packed, or sprawl outward. Hoping people stop moving here is not a viable option.

          • Alan Ditmore

            Not with the heating bills in Minneapolis and Chicago! And the Hurricanes hitting Miami largely caused by all that heating up North.

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.