Letters to the editor

Doc Chey’s speaks!

The last week has been a trying time here in Asheville, for all of us. The events that have transpired have been relayed to our guests, the general public and the family of Doc Chey’s through the media.

The quality of life and the sense of community is what makes Asheville a great place to live and work. We opened Doc Chey’s to offer great food; a comfortable, fun environment; and friendly personal service. We and our many employees feel that we are an integral part of this community.

As part of this community, our top priority is the safety of our guests and our employees. During the past few days, we have taken the time necessary to do absolutely everything to ensure the health and safety of all involved with Doc Chey’s.

We would like to thank the Buncombe County Health Department for showing their support by dining with us on our re-opening. We would also like to thank our staff for their patience and understanding. To all of our loyal customers, thank you for your numerous calls and coming in to show your support.

We look forward to the opportunity of continuing to serve the community. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call either of us directly.

— Brook Messina and Ellie Feinroth
Doc Chey’s Noodle House

Bad Grumpy Frank

Frank Rabey is a big, fat grump for saying mean things about the place I like to eat [“Best Place to Get a Snoutful of Hippie,” in Xpress‘ Best Of WNC 2003]. Rosetta’s Kitchen is the best. People wear funny clothes and have pretty pictures on their tummies. And they always are happy. Unlike Grumpy Frank.

So there.

P.S. And while I’m at it, unlike Marci Miller’s prissy movie review, I thought The Secret Lives of Dentists was a pretty good movie.

— Susan “Married to the Publisher” Hutchinson

[Frank Rabey responds: Well, there’s no reason to bring my weight into it. Skinny people can be grumpy, too, y’know.]

A call to artists for preserving GPI-optioned land

I was honored to be quoted in your newspaper [“The Option Play,” Sept. 24], one of 19 residents who expressed opposition to GPI, the majority of the City Council, the [Pack Square] Conservancy or combinations thereof. Restated: To base conservancy on the height of a building that obfuscates the sky is the height of cynicism.

As GPI has been given the option to buy public land through the summer — assuming the public has the option of expressing itself on this land at least until then, [and] that the public would be no more an obstacle than a proposed building — I call upon every artist of every form and medium to utilize this land: paint, sculpt and draw; dance, act and sing the land, the sky and mountain ranges in the name of conservation; and imagine, also, its desecration. As only artists can, second only to the sky, help us to transcend rhetoric.

In this interim, may GPI and [Eagle Street Redevelopment Corporation] — indeed, all concerned parties — transcend gesture to full partnership, restoring certain numbers of buildings on The Block in preservation and furtherance of black culture, and certain numbers of buildings in furtherance of integration: residences and businesses; upscale, moderate and subsidized. Why are more shadows proposed instead?

— Bradden D. Burns

Council and city staff’s circular approval process = deception

It has come to my attention that the city staff is going to approve a substandard road for the Riverbend Business Park development. City Engineer Cathy Ball has indicated that she plans to approve the design for the road, which does not and cannot meet minimum city standards.

When Council approved the conditional use permit for this project, it promised concerned citizens that if the developers are unable to get all of the needed permits or meet all conditions, the development [would] not receive final approval.

Condition No. 13 states, “The public roads constructed as part of this project shall be designed and constructed to meet the applicable City of Asheville standards for such roads.”

Stephens Street, which is designated a “collector road,” does not meet applicable city standards at the point of the I-240 underpass. There is a stretch of about 350 feet where the proposed road would go between support columns under I-240. The width from column to column is 33 feet and 10 inches — significantly narrower than specifications in the city design manual for a road of this type.

City staff has worked with the developers to break the rules and come up with a substandard design, which eliminates adequate storm drainage, curbs and gutters; area required for utility lines; and the bicycle lane — all of which were specified as requirements by the Technical Review Committee.

Asked in a recent meeting how staff can approve a substandard design, city Traffic Engineer Anthony Butzek replied, “We’re not trying to sweep away the standards and specs. We’re trying to come up with the [road] cross-section that most meets the public needs. We’re assuming the roadway is going through there, because we’ve been told Council made the decision to approve the Wal-Mart.”

What? Council made the decision to approve the development only if all conditions are met and all aspects of the design meet city requirements and standards. Now [city staff] are bending the rules because they assume Council approval is a given. This makes a mockery of the entire process, and makes the promise Council made to the citizens of Asheville a lie.

— Christopher Fielden
President, Community Supported Development

[Ed. Note: Xpress submitted this letter to the city engineering office for comment. What follows is a portion of the response that City Engineer Cathy Ball drafted and sent to Fielden himself:]

I would like to take the opportunity to respond to the concerns expressed in your letter in an effort to clarify information and provide accurate details about the process by which staff reviews proposed roadway designs.

As city engineer, I am dedicated to developing safe roadways for our community and would not approve a design that deviated from that commitment under any circumstances. As part of a standardized process for every development project, staff objectively reviews proposed roadway designs and any constraints within the project limits. Based on that review and right-of-way limitations, the city routinely provides for design variations; however, in no case will a variance be made if it compromises the safety of the traveling, biking or walking public.

In the case of Riverbend Business Park, the roadway is classified as a collector street. By definition, a collector street provides for design variances based on several factors such as parking allowances and/or the necessity of bike lanes. Upon reviewing Riverbend Business Park’s roadway, staff has developed a design that safely meets the public’s transportation and pedestrian needs. Specifically, the roadway width located beneath I-240, measured at approximately 34 feet, will safely accommodate the traveling, biking or walking public as determined by the city traffic engineer, Anthony Butzek.

I appreciate your questions and hope this information addresses your concerns.

— Cathy D. Ball
City Engineer, Asheville

Open letter to Xpress garden guy Jeff Ashton

In your article [“The Dance of the Garden Fool”] in [the Sept. 17] edition of the Mountain Xpress, you mention the challenges of a garden located 120 feet from your back door, and the pleasure of a color scheme for your new home that you and your wife would not have tried had you not enlisted the skills of an interior decorator.

Since you are “daydreaming about various gardening possibilities” and want to avoid mistakes that plagued you in the past, may I make a suggestion which you may find as refreshing as your new color scheme?

Rather than a Jardin Fou, I suggest you put your carpentry skills to good use and join the frontier in cutting-edge growing technology. By converting a room in your house, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest throughout the winter months in the comfort on your own home. Not only will you enjoy bumper crops of your own choosing, [but] your indoor garden won’t have weeds, sunlight deficits, pest problems or plant maladies that would otherwise take up your valuable time.

We are committed to enlightening conventional gardeners to the delights of indoor gardening, the fastest-growing hobby in America. Not only is indoor gardening easy and affordable, you will be amazed by the results of an indoor hydroponic garden which can produce anything from bananas to basil.

Furthermore, Dr. Lynette Morgan addresses the benefits of hydroponically grown vegetables in this month’s Growing Edge magazine.

According to Morgan’s article, organic, soil-based production takes a greater length of time for fertilizers to be broken down sufficiently for plant root systems to take up nutrients, [thus making it] more difficult to provide optimum levels of plant nutrients. With hydroponics, this process is instantaneous since the fertilizer doesn’t need to be “processed” by microbes before the elemental ions are available for uptake. In organically grown vegetables, the analysis [has] sometimes showed alarming levels of heavy metals in certain organic fertilizers applied to crops. Therefore, the assumption that organic produce is generally “safer” than conventionally grown produce isn’t always correct. The main advantage of growing organic vegetables, in [Morgan’s] opinion, is marketing, since growers receive premium prices for organically certified produce. Good hydroponic growers will not run into mineral deficiency or toxicity problems in properly run systems. This precise level of nutrient delivery usually results in higher yields and quality.

Subsequently, [my own garden center is] proud to be distributors for General Hydroponics, a company my brother started 25 years ago that supplies NASA, the Antarctic and universities worldwide, and that is instrumental in the Hydro for Hunger campaign to help Third World nations grow food hydroponically while preserving our most precious natural resource, water.

As a small mom-and-pop shop in Swannanoa, we are committed to helping the residents of Asheville to enjoy the benefits of home-grown produce year-round. I challenge you to come see how easy and effective it is. Don’t miss the new wave in agriculture; try something new, and leave your garden to the snows and deer.

— Julia Brooke-Childs
New Age Garden Center

[Ed. Note: “Jardin Fou,” a pet name Ashton has used for his own garden for several years, translates from the French as “crazy garden.”]

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