The public hearing at the City Council meeting on Sept. 11 was a sham. There was a 15-minute break after the hearing for Council members to deliberate. Four of them came back with well-prepared statements in favor of the McKibbon hotel group constructing a new hotel on Haywood Street.
Marc Hunt had even added an additional half hour to the open hearing, as if comments by Asheville residents were important to him. Though many of his past statements about the proposal have seemed conciliatory rather than direct, it's been clear for a while that he's in favor of a McKibbon hotel being built across from the Basilica of St. Lawrence.
It's unfortunate that this Council, elected to represent Asheville citizens, has disregarded the results, taken from valid surveys: The vast majority of Asheville residents do not want a hotel on this site. Cecil Bothwell, however, has consistently considered the views of Asheville tax payers and given plausible reasons against this proposal. I'm glad that Mayor Bellamy joined him in voting against it.
One can only hope now that the Basilica will have recourse when its dome does crack during construction, particularly if there's an underground parking structure. Though it's not a given, I say “when” instead of “if” because the group in charge of construction will be the same hotel group who will not dim the neon sign on the new Aloft hotel on Biltmore Avenue.
They say the bright light is their "tradition." I question whether the McKibbon hotel group will actually be keeping the best interests of the community — or the integrity of the Basilica's already cracked, unsupported dome — as a priority.
— Marge Renfroe