Letters to the editor

Weaverville’s future has been sold

On April 14, the Weaverville Board of Adjustment approved the special exception to allow a mall, larger than the Asheville Mall and Lowe’s combined, to be built on the corner of I-26 and 25/70.

After a large percentage of the public in attendance cited stories, statistics, laws and lore opposing the plan and questioning the B.O.A. requirements for a special exception, one board member actually said that the majority of the town was clearly in favor of the mall.

The developer was still awaiting an intersection decision, which he did not expect from the N.C. Department of Transportation until the end of the year, but rather than issue a continuance, the board gave the plan approval now. Why wait to hear all the facts? Forget that the traffic impact study was done during the summer, when school was out and peak hours are shorter, or that the developer did not know if it would be Wal-Mart or Target going in. Apparently adding 22,000 more car trips a day will not add to Weaverville traffic.

One board member voted against the project, stating that the 45 acres of parking and massive scale don’t fit there and will do nothing but harm the surrounding areas, while the person next to her stated that there is nothing they can do about growth, and the people in the surrounding areas will just have to deal with it, even though it will negatively impact them.

The folks who own and run a small vineyard and farm bordering the site refuse to sell, even though neighbors are selling property for millions of dollars each. Land like this cannot be afforded by anyone in Weaverville. The developer even stated that there is probably nobody in Weaverville who could afford to lease space in his new mall.

Shame on you, Board of Adjustment. You have sold out the town and the people because you think we need the revenue. I did not realize Weaverville was in such dire straits that we need to change the entire zoning plan to accommodate more retail space than presently exists in the whole town.

Shame on you for not having the conviction to do what’s right for your town, and for turning the scenic byway of Route 25/70 into another drive-through, plastic-crap mall that you don’t have to live near.

I hope you all lose your jobs and your positions on the board and have to go work at the mall for $7.50 an hour.

— Chris Bauer
Weaverville (Any Town)

Was this a hearing?

Several days ago, I had a conversation with one of Weaverville’s downtown merchants, who brought to my attention the continued discrepancy between what I hear firsthand and what Town Manager Mike Morgan tells me. Morgan says the town merchants don’t think they will be negatively affected by the [newly approved] Northridge Commons mall. There isn’t one merchant I’ve talked to that doesn’t feel his/her business will be negatively affected by this huge mall. Yet regardless of the large number of citizens who oppose the Northridge Commons, the Weaverville Town Council and Board of Adjustment claim this out-of-proportion mall is just what this rural landscape needs.

How do they draw their conclusions? They cite phone calls from citizens who they claim are in favor of the mall, yet no independent poll has been taken. Without that, we do not know that the phone calls the town representatives receive accurately represent the opinion of the community. They should have conducted a carefully designed survey to accurately determine the opinions of the community regarding this development.

Believing in the democratic process in local government, people on both sides took the time to show up to all three meetings and hearings on this development because this would decide the fate of Weaverville for years to come. Comments in opposition to the development were in the majority and were clearly disregarded. This was not a democratic process: These hearings were a farce. Had the BOA been listening to the testimony presented, they would have at least delayed this development. Again and again, the BOA’s seven points of “special exceptions” were questioned. No adequate answers to these concerns were made.

If this mall goes forward, there won’t be one citizen of Weaverville (and surrounding areas) whose quality of life will not be affected by increased traffic, crime, air pollution, noise and light pollution, to mention a few negatives.

Our rural land is disappearing across the nation at a frightening rate. Weaverville has joined with an unsustainable American dream, a dream that is soon to fail. Big-box development is based on outsourcing manufacturing, importing slave-labor goods, employing cheap labor for cheap goods, all the while touting minimum-wage jobs for our children and forcing independent shops out of business. America is being sold, one town at a time.

— Susan Stewart

Dog’s death had fuller story

The Xpress ran a letter [Dog’s Shooting Raises Questions, Feb. 8] from a concerned citizen in my neighborhood regarding animal control in Asheville being enforced unequally. She referenced an episode where the dog of a neighbor was “standing doing nothing in her own yard” on Virginia Avenue and was shot and killed by the Asheville Police Department. I would like to assure all readers this was not the full account of the event on Jan. 9, 2006.

While leaving my house [that day] for a walk with my dog, I was rushed by a pit bull. The same dog had trapped me on two other occasions in my yard over the last two years. I retreated to my deck and called my dog, and when she came up on my deck, the pit bull charged onto my deck in a very aggressive manner. The dog tried to charge through my sliding glass door, but I screamed and my brother came to the deck.

The dog trapped my brother in the front yard. I tried to call the dog’s owner — as I had done in the past — but to no avail. I called the police because I had never seen the dog that aggressive during the first two encounters. I can’t tell you how frightening this experience was for my family.

The first officer (Sgt. Randy Riddle) came on the scene and placed his squad car between my brother and the dog. [While] he waited for Animal Services, the dog charged him. The second officer (Lt. Rae Ferguson) on the scene shot at and nicked the dog.

This must be the point where the neighbor, quoted in the letter to the editor, started to observe the dog in its own yard, where it had returned. All officers on the scene continued to wait for Animal Services to arrive, but the dog then charged [at] the third officer (John Ballard) on the scene, and it was shot and killed.

We all cried for the life of this animal. I applaud the timely response, the patience and the professionalism exhibited by the Asheville Police Department during this tragic and violent event. I feel safer in my neighborhood — not because the dog is gone, but with knowing that I can trust the judgment and actions of our police officers in the field. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart and am grateful Asheville police prevented serious harm to my brother.

— Holly Berry
West Asheville

Editor’s note: The above chronology of events was verified by Lt. Rae Ferguson of the Asheville Police Department.

The 20-band buzz

Congratulations to the Westville Pub, Korby, Harvest Records and Giraffe Recording Studio on the smashing success of the Battle of the Bands on Sunday night, April 2. I am still buzzing two days later from the great music and the friendly and vibrant scene. How the organizers managed to allow around 20 bands to set up their own gear, play two songs, then load out without blowing some fuses is beyond me. You guys certainly made it happen though, and from a spectator’s vantage point, it was seamless.

The Asheville music community was well represented on this fine evening. The champion Tyrones simply killed it, causing the most energetic crowd action I witnessed. Their instrumental rock is tight, edgy and dynamic, causing one’s coccyx to twitch involuntarily. Unfortunately, I missed the runner-up’s set and also didn’t catch their name. I also missed probably the first half of the contest and many good bands that deserve a mention. But to my mind, the late night belonged to the hard-rock bands: All Good Things, Dice Fly High, Electric Damn, MindShapeFist. People, believe me, the rock is on in Asheville, North Carolina!

All of the bands did a fantastic job, especially given the time and competitive pressure. Offstage, it didn’t feel like a competition at all — more like a party among friends old and new, as bands and fans mingled about the pub with smiles on our faces and cold brews in our hands. We’ve got some talent in these mountains! It makes me reconsider all the hype about the Asheville music scene blowing up into the national (global?) spotlight. Maybe it can happen — and with the kind of camaraderie, good spirit and straight-up love of music I witnessed, maybe it can happen with integrity.

My only regret is that I didn’t see one woman on-stage. Where is Jacuzzi Suicide when we need them?

Again, thanks and congratulations to all involved. It was exciting and fulfilling. I am looking forward to checking out full sets by these bands, networking and playing myself, and just hanging out with the fine people and musicians right here in my greater neighborhood. Way to go, people!

— David Earl Tomlinson

Party poopers

I read recently in the Mountain Xpress a call to volunteer for election day duties. It’s something I’ve never done in my life, but in my growth as a politically aware citizen, I thought it would be a worthwhile activity — a donation to the community.

Apparently, I’m just naive.

When I called to volunteer my time, doing whatever they’d have me do, I was told they couldn’t use me unless I was a registered Democrat or Republican. The people in charge of such things apparently set down a rule to perpetuate their control over the electorate (as if they need any more controls in this state). I was a registered Green for a while in California, the first time I ever registered with a political party. There is, of course, no Green Party in North Carolina, due to the strict laws governing party recognition.

So unless I betray my personal values and register as a Republican or Democrat, I cannot help make sure that election day proceeds smoothly. It’s a shame. I’m no threat to anyone. I’d behave myself, whether greeting voters, taking names or counting votes. (In fact, I could argue that I’d be best at counting votes, since I have no party preference.)

I won’t lose any sleep over this little event, but I will continue to question what is right and wrong in our political system. Who is serving whom?

— Mark H. Bloom

Stop wasting police resources

As the executive director of the world’s largest organization of police, judges and other criminal-justice professionals who oppose the policy of drug prohibition, I’d like to echo letter writer Bob Niewoehner’s appeal to legalize marijuana for qualified medical patients [“Making Sense of Medical Marijuana,” March 15].

One can be diligent with concerns about possible marijuana abuse without endorsing the most absurd waste of police resources imaginable — that of arresting, processing and jailing medical patients who use marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. Our membership of over 5,000 believes it’s time to end criminal prohibitions against adult consensual use of any drug, but especially medical marijuana. This need is even more urgent if one views pot as a dangerous drug. It is our opinion that risky and dangerous substances are best distributed in controlled and regulated settings. Such regulation is impossible under a system of criminal prohibition.

We strongly commend all Americans working to change this misguided policy of arresting, prosecuting and caging otherwise law-abiding medical patients.

— Jack A. Cole
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Medford, Mass.

Patriotism by another name

In response to the 1972 oil embargo, Jimmy Carter signed a presidential order limiting speed on federal highways to 55 mph.

Although this proved to be highly unpopular, causing howls of protest across the country, it reduced our imports of oil by tens of thousands of barrels, a decline so abrupt and so considerable it surprised even the American Oil Institute. One can only imagine if that were today, with thousands more vehicles on the road.

Imagine such a thing today: fewer fatalities, less air pollution and a big dent in the balance of payments deficit. But it worked, and for a time, the speed limit cut into our oil dependency and our money going to the Middle East. It cut into what some might call our addiction to oil. Now that was patriotism.

— Allen Thomas

Just a couple of characters

I have been amused by the ongoing trial of the president (of Iraq). I do not use his title lightly, as he has yet to be democratically removed from office, nor has any international body brought forth charges against him.

To his credit, during his time in office he supported the rule of law to protect property and rights (selectively), and although the separation of church and state was a precarious balancing act, for the most part the support of state religion was more political than substantive. Women did not have to remain veiled or hide behind closed doors [as] the property of men. An open education system existed for all men and women (although real education remained an economic divide). The economy continued to be a boon for the extremely wealthy. And his domestic spying policy was a model of success, as all plots and acts of terrorism were thwarted.

That is not to say his term in office wasn’t marked by a domestic policy that included poor environmental practices — drilling for oil everywhere and a total lack of any coherent environmental policy. Neglect and disregard caused suffering and death for those of different social [and] economic backgrounds. Cronyism lined the pockets of friends with government contracts, with little concern for those at the economic bottom. Foreign policy included a stated goal to modernize and expand weapons of mass destruction, and a most modern military and a willingness to use it, including preemptive rules of engagement to protect national interests. And finally, to his downfall, a campaign of misinformation culminating in a failed war to “free the people.” (We knew that meant oil.)

Saddam is quite a character. I only wish we could see [the trial] in prime time; it would make a great complement to all the other reality shows. But foreign films and subtitles notoriously don’t do well. Maybe we could do the American version with President Bush. I do not use his title lightly, as he has yet to be democratically removed from office nor has any international body brought forth charges against him. To his credit, during his time in office he supported the rule of law to protect property and rights (selectively), and although the separation of church and state was a precarious balancing act, for the most part the support of state religion was more political than substantive.

— Mike Birkle

Assessing the state affairs

As far as I can tell, the war in Iraq is going superbly, and will probably only get better over time. Just because our heroic efforts have destroyed much of the country’s ability to provide its citizens with the basic necessities of food, water and electricity doesn’t mean they aren’t better off. At least they can vote. I mean, which would you rather have … the basic necessities of life, or the right to vote for whichever U.S.-approved politician that you want?

Also, I haven’t seen one body bag on the news, and it seems Iraqis are finally free to fight amongst themselves as much as they want to — with a little help from our sons and daughters, of course. All the while, I feel really great about the fact that my tax dollars are being spent to support these wonderful improvements for the people of Iraq, while at the same time subsidizing our vice president’s little company, which just happened to conveniently receive no-bid contracts to rebuild, or not rebuild, Iraq. It’s only been three years; cut them a little slack.

And all you people screaming for an exit strategy just need to relax, drive your SUV to the mall and buy some stuff from some of the companies enslaving children far, far away from here.

P.S. Whatever you do, do not protest the actions of our government or military, as protest has never been a part of the American lifestyle and is thus very un-American.

— Eric Usher

One flag, one language, one loyalty

Theodore Roosevelt’s ideas on immigrants and being an American: “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American. … There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag … . We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language … and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

God expects us to be humane; unfortunately, there are those who will take advantage of humanity. The Mexican government isn’t inhumane, but has its share of poverty. America has many impoverished citizens; until their needs are taken care of, it is criminal for a noncitizen to steal [from] our coffers.

As for those who would try to convince us that illegals are an asset, they certainly are to those who break the law and hire them to obtain cheap labor. They are no asset to the American people who have paid into Social Security for many years, hoping to have money for their old age (while the politicians tell us it won’t be there). Yet they condone the illegals sneaking over the border and tapping right into [that system].

I suspect Roosevelt would have taken the opportunity to bring in the Army and deport those illegals who were demonstrating. Of course, our Army is invading another country rather than preventing the Mexican invasion.

— Bob Collins
Mountain Home

Censure’s the first step

As president, commander in chief, the leader of our nation, George W. Bush should most definitely be held accountable for his actions. We don’t change laws for private citizens when they break them, and we shouldn’t change the law for the president. Censure is a reasonable first step toward holding him accountable.

Laws are made to protect people. George Bush broke the law. All of Congress should stand with Sen. [Russ] Feingold to protect the rule of law. If Congress doesn’t support censuring the president, they are saying it is OK for the president — any president — to break the law. This is not OK! No citizen is above the law. The president is a public servant. An elected official. Any other elected official found breaking the law would be held accountable. Congress must do the right thing.

— Ramona Hovey

Ride on the peace train

One of the wonderful things about living in this area is how people are deeply involved in global issues and supportive of our citizens’ attempts to create a more peaceful world. I want to draw attention to two important events pertaining to Middle East peace issues. The first is a slide-lecture on the work of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition, to be held at Black Mountain Unitarian/Universalist Church at 7:30 p.m. on April 20. [Speakers] Tom Stern and Tema Okun, two Jewish Americans on the national board of ICHAD, will be explaining the intercommunal aspects of their peace work in Israel. At a time when the prospects for peace in Israel and Palestine seem so remote, it is inspiring to see how Palestinians, Israelis and internationals are working together to preserve human dignity and to pursue justice.

The other event will take place April 28-30 at the Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville. Many local groups are sponsoring the American Friends Service Committee’s “Eyes Wide Open” exhibit, which is a display of empty combat boots representing the numbers of North Carolinians killed in combat in Iraq. This solemn occasion, which also commemorates the loss of civilian life in Iraq, reminds us of the human costs involved in any war, as well as making a silent plea that not many more soldiers and civilians will have to die. The exhibit will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. At its close, the names of all the soldiers will be read, and white doves of peace will be released.

— Tony Bing
Western Carolinians for Peace and
Justice in the Middle East
Black Mountain

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One thought on “Letters to the editor

  1. kellyhulia

    please make this a high-end magnet mall nd not another trashy one. we already have walmart etc. how about neiman marcus or nordstrom and the like?? that’s what we need around here… not more of the same same same… also include a good bookstore and a copying place for those of use who read. please iindulge walmart’s hesitancy now by removing it from the mall and replacing it and many others with things that are unique and that attract better quality folks to our area. thanks for listening… julia

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