Letter: Where are environmental groups on Charlotte Street development?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I’ve been disappointed that our local environmental groups have been silent in the fight against the 101 Charlotte St. development. The plan calls for [multiple] trees to be bulldozed, many of which are more than 100 years old, only to be replaced with twigs developers are calling trees.

The ground will be graded down to street level, and the site will go from 45% to 80% impervious cover, contributing to the urban heat island. Twelve homes will be demolished, adding … tons of perfectly good materials to our landfill.

This kind of destruction should be an embarrassment to any city that claims to care about combating climate change.

I call upon locally important environmental groups to take a stand on this issue in this time of emergency climate crisis. Where are you MountainTrue … Sierra Club, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Dogwood Alliance? We must get loud now before it’s too late!

— Ray Hearne


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11 thoughts on “Letter: Where are environmental groups on Charlotte Street development?

  1. Robert McGee

    I appreciate Mr. Hearne’s call to action. I don’t know who has previously reached out to those groups (or what they’ve been told), but I do know from my 7-month fight to help save Richmond Hill and the French Broad River from the poorly planned and environmentally devastating Bluffs proposal that MountainTrue and Sierra Club people are committed to protecting our rivers and forests. They have worked tirelessly alongside volunteers for months and may not have the bandwidth to be involved in every fight. I believe that we should be asking why our local elected officials do not stand up and lead. I believe that people with children should be more involved. I believe that everyone who has not yet donated a few dollars, or a weekend, or even just an evening to pen letters to editors should be encouraged to step into the fray. Please visit websites for MountainTrue, Grow-Wise Buncombe, and Richmond Hill & River Rescue Facebook if you’d like to do more to save our area from many looming atrocities. Please attend Asheville City Council meetings and Woodfin Town Commissioners meetings and say, Enough is Enough! Woodfin has one this Tuesday (July 20th) at 6:30pm.

  2. luther blissett

    Is a housing density of 35 units per acre more or less environmentally conscious than one of, say, three units per acre? It’s a simple question.

    • Robert

      Not so simple, actually. Depends a great deal on infrastructure, city planning, whether or not occupants drive fossil-fuel vehicles (and how much fuel they use, not gas mileage of cars), and a great many other factors related to quality of life, climate change, looming food and water issues, community, traffic congestion, pollution, demographics, population and on and on…our ‘environment’ encompasses a great many facets of the human experience.

      • luther blissett

        That’s a gish gallop. We’re talking about one specific parcel of land as close to the city center as McCormick Field. The letter-writer presents the issue as if the acreage is to be paved over and turned into a parking lot, but as LowerCrust notes below, infill development is generally better than breaking new ground well away from the city.

        And what has the area seen in recent years? A rash of apartment complexes in the county that require deforestation, are totally car-dependent, and require ad hoc infrastructure improvements that cause further environmental degradation.

        Would the 101 Charlotte development be suited for, say, Leicester? No. Would it be environmentally-conscious to build some big McMansions or a hotel on the 101 Charlotte lot as long as they were surrounded by trees? Not really. Environmentally-conscious urban development has to incentivize density and disincentivize land-squatting.

  3. LowerCrust

    People may have many reasons for supporting or opposing the project on Charlotte Street, but from a purely ecological perspective, the view offered in the letter seems both highly selective and reductionist in that it does not begin to encompass broader impacts on the larger ecosystem. Without necessarily taking a definite side in this particular matter, at a minimum the ecological impact of any project needs to consider not only costs, but also the expected and unanticipated environmental benefits which might be derived.

    For instance, as a general matter, infill development projects such as the one proposed on Charlotte Street are within or close to downtown areas and as such are more compact, use less land to house more people, are much more conducive to people walking, biking or using mass transit for work, shopping, etc., offer a mix of uses, and create a sense place for larger numbers of residents.

    Thus such projects often have environmental benefits because they can reduce development pressure on outlying areas, helping to safeguard lands that serve even more important ecological functions. They also reduce the amount that people drive, improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and they potentially create a more interactive and cooperative space where home, work, social and economic life is more integrated.

    Unless such potential environmental benefits are considered, no real assessment of short and longer term impacts can be made.

  4. Enlightened Enigma

    yeah, Mountain True…etc…where is Julie Mayfield on this ??? Seems like she’d be all over this, right?

  5. Taxpayer

    It seems like everyone moving here is 10 years past retirement and they aren’t going to walk anywhere their Escalades will go. Bike lanes? lol

    • MV

      Perhaps we need an intense heat wave, followed by severe drought and then flooding and the crumbling of Riverside Drive into the French Broad…food/water shortages, power outages, followed by oil embargoes raising gas to $8/gallon (about what tourists pay for a pint of craft beer in a plastic cup)…maybe then folks will wake up.

    • LowerCrust

      It may “seem like” it to you, but like so many broad brush depictions of Asheville, it’s an overblown stereotype. The 65 year and older population of Asheville is within a percentage point or two of the national average.

      Also, since these are rental apartments being proposed, you are likely to find that the typical resident will be at the younger end of the adult population. If you wish to serve the interests of younger, resident, working people – it will likely be through projects such as this. Interestingly, the efforts opposing it seem to disproportionately draw from the 65 and older demographic, as suggested in some of the video featured in the linked article.

      • Taxpayer

        Nope. Being involved in real estate transactions here over the last year has shown me the vast majority of buyers/renters coming here are retired or getting ready to retire and they love 1) expensive, low maintenance condos and apartments and 2) have the money to buy or rent a place that will be their escape from Florida for part of the year. These are the people Asheville is catering to.

  6. James

    The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is a land trust that basically practices environmental protections by holding conservation easements on properties and monitoring them for compliance. The easements are entered into by the landowners themselves, and the properties are usually of more regional and even global significance (such as grassy balds on the Roan Mountain massif) than a few run-down houses on the edge of a city. SAHC is non-partisan and as non-political as possible. This is not a fight that they are likely to join in.

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