“Pavement or Paradise? Asheville’s Future Is Yours to Decide” [Dec. 8, Xpress] revealed the attempt by Asheville’s Planning and Urban Design Department to eviscerate development rules to include open space, by proposing an “open space amendment” that waives up to 80% of green space incorporated in future builds (existing ordinance 7-11-4 at: avl.mx/b06; radical “OSP” changes at: avl.mx/b05).
Appointed, unaccountable PUDD members’ efforts to cede taxpayers’ right to chill spots in developments would provide the lobby myriad ways to eliminate green space at odds with both Council’s recent passage of a zero net loss tree canopy ordinance and inclusion of greenways and parks in Asheville’s Downtown Master Plan.
Locals suffer construction noise, toxic runoff, radiating concrete heat and increased traffic while watching agog as the Planning and Zoning Commission grants wealthy speculators building variances and lets them pay a fee not to comply with open space requirements — this fund accruing during litigation without being used to preserve what developers destroy: wildlife, views, neighborhood character and climate resilience.
PUDD’s effort to override rules designed to make developers responsive to residents seems driven by fallacies such as “density infill” is necessary; developments provide “affordable housing”; and “all cities must grow.” But naming their maneuver an open space proposal is downright cynical — its words crafted to mislead people to assume it a good thing.
Many activists, citizens, eco-groups, the Urban Forestry Commission and the Neighborhood Advisory Committee are justly appalled by and formally opposed to PUDD’s machination.
People don’t flock here for a pseudo-Charlotte experience; they come for the homey vibe at risk. Readers should appreciate their right to nature amid runaway sprawl by repudiating PUDD’s unilateral overreach; PZC’s pending consideration to approve PUDD’s egregious open space proposal and development variances; and City Council’s history of whole-cloth adopting staff’s and commissions’ recommendations.
I encourage everyone to express their outrage to PUDD at 828-259-5830; to PZC via contact info at avl.mx/8b6 and by emailing all Council members at AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov.
— Queen Lady Passion (Dixie Deerman)
Editor’s note: The writer notes that she is a member of the Tree Protection Task Force and Rhododendron Creek Community neighborhood association in West Asheville. She can be emailed via oldenwilde.org.