Letter writer: A contradiction in terms?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I was amused at City Council’s recent proclamation that there would be greater oversight on development of hotels and big buildings in downtown Asheville. This while half a dozen cranes loom over downtown Asheville.

One Council person [was] already hedging, “Having more oversight doesn’t mean fewer projects.” So, basically, we’re going to tell you one thing and do what we’ve always done; this is just to mollify those folks always whining about overdevelopment.

My views about the overdevelopment of a once beautiful and eclectic city are well-documented in this and other publications. I find this latest attempt to placate a bit disingenuous and insulting.

— Jesse Junior


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33 thoughts on “Letter writer: A contradiction in terms?

  1. Lulz

    And yet some are running for re-election. And newcomers offer absolutely no new solutions. And even more ridiculous, one member isn’t even living within city limits and yet is on council LOL. Me thinks that once the corruption is looked at closely by impartial parties, they’ll uncover a few decades worth of crimes.

    • You might also find it interesting to read a report from a local blogger about the concerns he had with city council’s retreat and its current make up. He makes a pretty good argument for district elections.

      by David Forbes | Asheville Blade | March 3, 2017

      “..Last year offered abundant evidence that it is senior staff, not the public, that need to be reined in. But beyond frustration with officials who increasingly seem to regard the people they’re sworn to serve as an inconvenience there is the fact Council has an obligation here. Their job is not to reach consensus. Their job is not to be friends. Their job is not to retreat into a bubble of chummy cleverness with officials raking in several times a working Ashevillian’s income. Their job is to use the power the people have granted them and be publicly accountable for that use. Once in awhile, believe it or not, that may even require more harsh skepticism than camaraderie with the officials they’re charged with overseeing. At this year’s retreat, over a full day of discussion, our elected officials couldn’t even muster that..”


      • luther blissett

        You might find it interesting to read that piece because you’ll find nothing in it that constitutes an argument for district elections. Strange how some people with preconceived official talking points feel the need to pretend they have support from places where it doesn’t exist.

      • NFB

        The are pros and cons for district elections. But it is a decision that should be made by the citizens of Asheville and not imposed on us by Raleigh — especially by those of the party that has long advocated for local control.

        • How would one go about having the citizens of Asheville make the decision to use district elections?

          [Sunday, March 5, 2017, 12:43 P.M.]

          • NFB

            By electing City Council members who will implement it. We are supposed to be a republic after all.

        • Something ought to be done about it, right, Barry, the topic patrol?

          luther blissett
          4 hours ago
          You might find it interesting to read that piece because you’ll find nothing in it that constitutes an argument for district elections..

          2 hours ago
          The are pros and cons for district elections..

          Peter Robbins
          58 mins ago
          Actually, David Forbes has written extensively about the effort to foist districts on Asheville..

          [Sunday, March 5, 2017, 2:52 P.M.]

        • Peter Robbins

          Sorta strange that it even qualifies as an off-topic, what with everything already having been decided by our overlord to the south.

        • Able Allen

          Yeah, that’s a fair point Barry. To some extent it is a tangential topic, so I see how we got here. But lets keep this about Asheville city council’s development oversight. There are plenty of other threads delving into district elections. Thanks.

  2. dyfed

    It’s almost like it’s not the job of City Council to shut down building across the city.

  3. luther blissett

    “This while half a dozen cranes loom over downtown Asheville.”

    Um, that’s because all those projects got approved under the old set of rules? They reduced the speed limits on a few streets too, but they didn’t go back and ticket people who drove at the old top speed.

    • NFB

      “This while half a dozen cranes loom over downtown Asheville.”

      And a big part of the reason there are so many of those cranes is that people are doing what the letter writer did — moving here.

      • Lulz

        LOL and does such as other hypocrites do, lives outside the city and yet are involved in the way it taxes those that live within it. Without themselves paying for the results.

  4. Under NC law municipalities have very little power to block development projects. The idea that Council “approved” all the recent hotel projects is false. The idea that Council could block any future projects is extremely iffy. If a project complies with zoning rules it is a permitted use. Period. If a developer wants an exception to the rules, the exception can be blocked. Recall the vote a month ago on the hotel planned for the old Sheriff’s Dept. property. As a Level III project it was subject to Council review and was turned down. (In addition to the new rule on hotel review, we FINALLY reduced Level III from 175,000 to 100,000 square feet—a change I have advocated since I voted against the Downtown Master Plan revision in 2010.)
    The more or less accurate quote Jesse Junior included was mine, and it is precisely correct. By making all but the smallest hotel projects subject to Conditional Zoning, we ensure they will be vetted very publicly. We will be able to discuss the projects with developers from the earliest planning stages and hopefully encourage better outcomes. We can offer arguments for living wages, energy efficiency, architecture that fits in our lovely city. We cannot block development without substantial cause. Council cannot make wage laws, or environmental requirements stronger than the state building code, or force design changes. We can only suggest.

    The letter writer’s suggestion that Council has any power to stop growth is simply wrong. If you don’t like how fast Asheville is growing, talk to the TDA. They’re the ones advertising like mad. Or else, move out of the City … oh, looks like you already did.

    • Lulz

      LOL, your job Bothwell is to use the growth to fund your government as it’s the main cause of all the issues here. Not use the money to fund special interest garbage and ignore infrastructure needs and then promote a phony bond and raise taxes to make up for it. Or what had to be finally put to an end and that was enlarging the border to find more money while allowing corporate and tourist interest to do as they please on the backs of taxpayers. During your tenure the area has become an overrated traffic nightmare and overburdened taxpayer scam.

  5. Ah yes, Lulz, far better to let people crowd around the edges of the City and benefit from City taxpayer funded resources than to accept the idea that cities grow.
    The need for the transportation bond was driven by councils in the last century who preferred to keep taxes artificially low and let the roads go to hell. Whereas best practices are 30 year repaving, we were on a 70 year repaving schedule. Few new sidewalks too. So those of us who are more honest with the citizens offered a way to improve that, and voters approved the bond.
    The Parks and Rec bond was driven by those previous Councils unwilling to upgrade community centers, parks and make financial plans for repair of pools. A lot of citizens like those amenities, though we could debate all day whether they are “necessities.”
    The Housing bond is more problematic in my view, and I voted “no.” Not because I oppose affordable housing but because I don’t think our strategies are cost-effective.
    If you’re looking for someone who detests putting corporate and tourism interests on the backs of our taxpayers you have come to the right person … and if you have time to actually look at the record between your know-nothing posts, you’ll notice that my voting record on Council supports my assertion.

    • Lulz

      Yes Bothwell, cities do grow. But the growth is fueled by tourist and tourism. They are not paying for it.

      As far as the bond is concerned, if you were an honest person you would have added that we as city council are allowing the residents to decide If they want a tax increase via a bond. But we also realize that you as residents are overburdened and that the root cause of infrastructure needs are BIG CORPORATE INTERESTS who are not taxed nor are BEHOLDEN to CONTRIBUTE to the area that IS MAKING THEM MILLIONS. So while they make money and the jobs they provide WON’T even pay a living wage, WHICH WILL BE MADE UP BY TAXPAYERS, we are asking residents to PAY EVEN MORE because WE IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT ARE SELL OUTS.

      Then see if your phony bond would’ve passed.

      • luther blissett

        That’s a lot of all-caps.

        Now, if you can explain the mechanisms and authority by which the city can do that, and get the state legislature to remove the tax exemptions on not-for-profits like Mission, and solve the problem whereby businesses can move to wherever gives the best tax breaks but cities can’t grow legs and walk, we might get somewhere. Still time to file for the council election.

    • Lulz

      LOL and let me add, if you’re so concerned about the Basillica Park, go beg your hotel and RAD friends for the money. They’re the one’s making the money here. They should pay for it. It’s about time the pay their fair share.

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