On March 1, I attended the town of Woodfin’s Zoom hearing regarding the conditional use permit The Bluffs’ developer is seeking to move forward with building 1,394 high-rise apartment units in the pristine forest spanning 90 acres from Richmond Hill Park to our beloved French Broad River.
I’m not an attorney, but I have to say that I was struck by how often The Bluffs’ legal counsel stated (and I’m paraphrasing) that the traffic on Richmond Hill Drive is going to be what it’s going to be no matter the height of the buildings.
This statement sounded reckless to me. If a similarly cavalier view is shared by council members of Woodfin and Asheville, I believe they’re being woefully and willfully negligent in their duty to protect taxpaying citizens. Seems sort of like a president who understands that people are dying during a pandemic, denies science and states: “It is what it is.”
Richmond Hill is heavily traveled. Large trucks jackknife with regularity at the intersection of Pearson Bridge Road and Richmond Hill Drive. Visitors to our beloved park, the Western North Carolina Baptist Home and OM Sanctuary, as well as crucial National Guard personnel and residents, rely on this access point to reach work, school and medical appointments.
If our local leaders choose to do nothing to ensure that the Bluffs’ developer commits to building his bridge before starting construction on one of the largest ever developments in our area — and one that is facing much public opposition — then we must assume that they are taking a passive, enabling approach to this future fiasco.
Imagine this narrow lane jammed by a stalled vehicle at the same moment of an emergency. It won’t matter how much water is available at The Bluffs if firefighters cannot reach what many are now calling “the death trap.”
Allowing The Bluffs to proceed without ensuring our public safety is playing with fire.
— Robert McGee