Letters to the editor

Cliffs project sits on planning precipice

The Nov. 15 “County Commission Report” [“This Place Was a Dump,” Xpress] exposed a potential problem in our region: a Buncombe County Planning Board that appears to be putting the interests of developers ahead of the community it serves.

As a citizen of Swannanoa, I wish to draw public attention to unfolding events regarding The Cliffs at High Carolina, a proposed development of over 500 multi-million-dollar homes on over 1,000 mountainside acres in Swannanoa. Let me state up front that I am not opposed to growth or development when folks play fair and honor community concerns.

The Cliffs at High Carolina submitted their initial project application the day before the county’s new steep-slope and storm-water regulations went into effect. In order for The Cliffs to be exempt from the new regulations, however, a “vested interest” in the project [was to be demonstrated] at the time of submission. The Cliffs’ vested interest is questionable, as indicated by the fact that The Cliffs did not own much — if any — of the land proposed for the development; they did not develop a “phase one plan” that normally is included with an initial project application; and, they did not show evidence of conducting significant site work, such as surface-land surveys.

Whether a vested interest was demonstrated and whether The Cliffs will need to comply with the new steep-slope and storm-water regulations [are] decisions that sit with the Planning Board. These new regulations were put into effect because we know that there are a number of significant problems associated with mountain-slope development. These new regulations still allow developers and contractors to make huge profits — they are not draconian measures that impede growth or development. They are, however, there to provide minimal safeguards against excessive erosion, landslides and the sedimentation of our creeks and rivers.

I appeal to our county commissioners: Please do the job we elected you to do and hold the Planning Board accountable. This next decade will bring unprecedented change to Buncombe County. The social, environmental and economic impacts of the impending population boom lie with our collective ability to plan well, and with our elected officials’ ability to ensure that the development process maintains the highest level of integrity and transparency.

— Stan Cross

Deliver me from delivery

I would like to add my two cents to “Unsafe At No Speed[Letters, Nov. 15].

Mr. Doyle hit the nail on the head. I am constantly finding myself avoiding downtown at any cost. The problem with parking downtown is exacerbated by delivery trucks every day. The city could set and enforce delivery times. But we all know the city’s major interest lies in making money — why else would it promote all the $1.5-million condos being built in every available space possible.

Fining delivery-truck drivers would be counterproductive to promoting the fine dining and expensive shops that the tourists and wealthy condo residents find so essential to their total “downtown experience.” Every potential parking-deck space has been snapped up for building more living space for the well heeled.

After giving up on the monster parking deck proposed for the area literally surrounding the Battery Park apartments, [the city] followed by [announcing] an agreement with Bell South to acquire their land for a parking deck instead. Now that we’ve relaxed over that issue, [Council] hints that they may still be considering the Battery Park apartments site. [This] supports the whole point that that the city is interested in money from the wealthy few, no matter the inconvenience to the un-wealthy many.

All I ask is whether the city has plans to provide the necessary support system that the condo owners and tourists are going to need after they fill the whole of Asheville with condos and no parking spaces for the wait staff, housekeepers, sales clerks, cooks and personal trainers etc.

Well, that’s my two cents.

— Renee De Angelis

Pass the turkey, or the ham

You knew it would come, and Joseph Walsh’s “A Fowl Tradition[Letters, Nov. 22] was true to form — an attempt to deconstruct Thanksgiving while tugging on emotions in yet another attempt to guilt Americans into forgoing turkey. Presumably, fellow travelers will sound the alarm bells prior to Christmas, too, and add ham to their hit list.

Tell you what — I’ll accept your dietary preference and you grant me the same courtesy. We’ll call it tolerance, that commodity that people who subscribe to minority lifestyles always push on the rest of us.

In his natural state, man is not vegetarian and never has been. Whatever the reasons for the choice, vegetarians tend to look pale, skinny and not very happy. Probably because they’re hungry.

Efforts to control my choices in life are becoming increasingly tiresome, regardless of who champions those efforts. I don’t need the heavy hand of government or the shrill voices of activists to dictate what I should eat, what type vehicle to drive, whether or not to have an occasional cigar, or any of a myriad of other decisions the Framers of this country believed could be made by individual, freethinking adults.

For what it’s worth, firsthand accounts of the first Thanksgiving include mention of unspecified fowl and deer, [and] Indian guests who hung around for three days of feasting. I guess they weren’t vegetarian, either.

— Alex Lekas


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