Letter writer: Environmentally friendly builder faces vandalism

Graphic by Lori Deaton

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

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48 thoughts on “Letter writer: Environmentally friendly builder faces vandalism

  1. Induction

    From what you’re saying, it doesn’t sound like whoever is doing this is as angry with your solar panels as much as you developing on the land.
    You’ve contacted the police; what about the contractors whose equipment was damaged? Do you have security cameras on site?

  2. Remember when progressives destroyed $12,000 worth of construction equipment at the Walmart site on Bleachery Blvd?
    Remember when progressives damaged fencing and equipment at the Health Adventure site on Broadway?
    Remember when progressives used acid etching to vandalize a men’s clothing store downtown across from Grove Arcade?

    You have your answer.

  3. Have you considered motion detecting cameras? Alarms? Dogs? Camping on site, or just hiding and waiting for the perp to show? If you have video or images, this would allow you to press charges. Clearly it’s the same person who initially approached you, or someone who resents your project. I don’t think writing a letter to the editor will change anything.

    • Many homeless people would be glad to camp on site and watch the place, though you might have to pick up a bottle or two, homeless peopl might also be motivated to protect the housing supply. We need armed civilian guards like the volunteers who guarded the recruiting office, except housing is far more important than recruiting. Planned Parenthood needs such guards too, at least after hours.

      • Armed volunteer guards when open might scare Planned Parenthood patients, so turning out when they are closed would work better.

  4. Maggie Barry says says some “green” units are too big to be green. I agree and believe the maximum geen unit is 4000 cubic feet. so how big is the biggest unit in this project in climate controlled cubic feet?????

    • NFB

      Unaffiliated Voter, OneWhoKnows, Solutionist, and now back to Yep. I guess he is no longer a voter who is unaffiliated, no longer knows, and no longer has any solutions.

    • Unaffiliated Voter

      Because I can and it keeps you people on yer toes … ;) It’s often that the non progressive angles must be indicated for
      most of the readers here as they seek solutions for many dictated lieberal progressive problems they cannot solve on their own (usually involving mo money) … Thankfully many are seeing the light of the real world of American government and how we preserve it. That means the ‘audience’ here is gaining enlightenment which is a good thing.

      • bsummers

        What is the XPress policy about sockpuppetry? One person pretending to be crowd, so as to make it look like his opinions are shared by more than just himself? I thought that used to be against the rules.

        If it still is, here’s someone who just confessed.

        • NFB

          Well, it has longed seemed that MX’s monitoring has been pretty random. Sometimes they will admonish posters abut name calling and say things like “attack the ideas, not the people” but then allow vegans to compare meat eaters to Nazis and others to call progressives “evil” and we get crickets..

          I guess the best policy is to simply not feed the trolls, although I will admit I myself have not always followed that advice.

        • Tracy Rose

          Xpress is not in favor of someone using multiple screen names on the site. We are in the process of correcting the situation.

          • Tracy Rose

            I think in this case it’s about expressing those opinions using a single screen name.

  5. Peter Robbins

    Don’t you watch the movies? If his true identity were known, it would destroy his effectiveness as a crime-fighter.

  6. greg lewis

    “Environmentally friendly builder” is a huge oxymoron. You cut down trees, you grade the land, you build an ugly ass house where trees stood.

    • hauntedheadnc

      Well, as soon as you figure out a way to get people to stop moving here, and also figure out a way to get all the people who have already moved here to go away, you just let us all know. In the meantime, if people are coming, they need somewhere to live. I would prefer that when that’s the case, that someone makes the effort to give them places to live that have the smallest footprint possible.

      I would also like for someone to make an effort to build affordable, environmentally-friendly homes, but while I’m dreaming, I’d also like a pony and a billion dollars.

    • and if he didn’t then either someone would be homeless, or someone would be commuting 50 miles over an 8 lane highway. Houses don’t make people, lack of city contraception funding makes people and once the people are made the housing is inevitable. I’m arranging fo homeless campers now to guard the place at night.

    • OK_I_See

      “2100 square feet and that is too big a unit to actively protect.”
      “2100 square feet per unit can never be green.”

      What does size have to do with guardability or “green”-ness?

      • Large housing units require more building materials and more heat at any given insulation level. they have more environmental impact in every way. Units over 1000 square feet or 7000 cubic feet can NEVER be green. they also hold too many kids, thus encouraging octomoms.

  7. mynameis

    it’s ALL about CONTROL, Tracy…CONTROL of opinion! Control it girl!

  8. WLOS said 2600 square feet and if that is a unit size then it is too big to be green or to volunteer to protect. ( I misremembered it as 2100). I must repeat myself because of all these irrelevant posts about identity burying relevant discussion, those irrelevant posts must be deleted or otherwise moved out of the way for burying relevant discussion. Asheville police shouldn’t be guarding such big units either. they should leave that to county, state, or federal authorities who guard stuff without city tax funds. I as an individual will not volunteer to protect such big units and neither should the city. APD time is limited and they need it all to protect smaller units, and people.

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