I never thought that I would have to defend the environmental and building credibility of our company, but a recent spate of vandalism has compelled me to do so. I don’t know if this letter will end the vandalism on our job site, but maybe someone who reads it will have information that will help the Police Department in their investigation.
I own a construction company, Mountain Sun Building & Design, with my wife, Emily. We have lived in Asheville for 20 years; Emily has lived in North Carolina her whole life, and I have since I was 12. Our kids were proudly born at Mission Hospital. We are a small company, building about three houses per year. So far, all have been infill projects within the Asheville city limits so as not to contribute to urban sprawl.
The houses we build are net-zero or net-zero ready. Net-zero means that the house produces as much electricity as it consumes, and a net-zero-ready house is built to the same standards, but doesn’t yet have the solar panels installed. Our houses are site-specific designs that allow in abundant natural light, have thoughtful window and door placements for privacy in denser neighborhoods and the smallest impact on the environment possible. MSBD won the “Green Certification” award in the 2013 and 2015 Asheville Parade of Homes for having the highest score in the Green Built NC program. Our business model emphasizes quality construction and environmental stewardship over profit margin.
This brings us to our current project, Shelburne Woods. It is located at the end of Shelburne Drive off of Sand Hill Road, situated on just under two acres across Rhododendron Creek from an already existing green development and adjacent to the future Rhododendron Creek Greenway. We intend to build nine high-quality, net-zero or net-zero-ready single-family homes with shared open spaces and a walking trail within easy walking distance of West Asheville Park, the West Asheville business district and schools.
We purchased the land that will become Shelburne Woods in July of 2014. During underbrushing for survey work that summer, the on-site crew had several run-ins with a neighbor coming onto the property who was angry that the land was going to be developed. One day, the neighbor was seen tampering with the cap on the fuel tank of the track hoe. Police were called at the time, but no damage was done, so we let it go and didn’t think much of it.
We recently began the infrastructure work at Shelburne Woods and have had repeated instances of vandalism. All of the significant trees on our property were spiked with nails. This is very serious and can cause kickback on a chainsaw, causing severe injury or death to a person. It also makes it so that the bottom portion of the tree cannot be milled and is wasted.
The first week on the site, a bulldozer owned by NHM Contractors was vandalized. The perpetrator cut the lock off of the fuel tank and dumped sugar into the tank. These machines cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and removing the tainted fuel is costly and wasteful. A few nights later, the dozer’s and track hoe’s windows were spray-painted blue. Most recently, a vandal again cut the lock off of the bulldozer and track hoe, dumped sugar into the fuel tanks, and then replaced the locks with similar locks. The operator The operator checked the locks in the morning and did not notice the replacement locks. He subsequently started the engine, which caused major damage. The Asheville police have been called on every occasion, and three police reports have been filed in as many weeks.
This vandalism is not an attack just on our small, family-owned company, but affects many of your neighbors as well. We help provide around 50 local craftsmen with a livelihood that filters down into our local economy. At this point, we are researching options such as security cameras, chain-link fences with razor wire or on-site security personnel. All of these are costly additions that we never thought we would need in Asheville. If you have any information that can help us stop the vandalism on our project, please contact Officer [Kevin] Skonieczny with the Asheville Police Department at [252-1110].
Having to defend ourselves against these types of attacks is very frustrating. We are trying to do what we believe is right for the environment and for Asheville, the city we all love. Being attacked for being anti-environment is confusing. We have been lifelong environmentalists and are teaching our children to be good stewards of the Earth as well.
The population of the world is growing. As long as more people are being born than are dying, we will need more houses. Urban infill [with] population density is the environmentally responsible way to build. Suburban development demands more water, roads and services the farther out it spreads and has a much greater impact on taxpayers and the environment. I want to urge anyone who still has issues with our development of the land on Shelburne Drive to talk to us about your concerns rather than anonymously trespass and damage our property.
— Jeb Boyd