Letters to the editor

Let us stay Weaverville!

With the exception of Al Root, the rest of the Weaverville Town Council has sold out this quaint and peaceful hamlet to benefit the bank accounts of developers and to ensure the growth of unnecessary urban sprawl.

Reportedly, 1,500 jobs will be created by the building of the project the Council just approved. That’s great, because with a town population of around 2,600, this shopping center should ensure employment for over 50 percent of Weaverville. And talk about convenience! The nine whole minutes it takes me to drive to work in Asheville every day is just wearing me down.

I can’t think that 1,500 low-wage jobs will bring a lot of revenue to the town, especially when money made at the big-box stores will go into a bank pouch and then be whisked away to Arkansas or California or some other place far away from here, and never get spent in our town.

I’m sure the developers have shown that the effects of wiping out Weaverville’s mom-and-pop stores will be minimal, at most, and with a population that small, there is no way a minimal effect will be that bad, right?

Tax base? Let’s see — great schools, wonderful Main Street, no crime, no litter. Obviously Weaverville needs more money because life here just isn’t quite pleasant enough.

This is a prime example of a pristine little community about to shoot itself in the foot because a developer says it will feel good. It’s like calling McDonald’s and asking them if they would please come to our town because we can’t find a tasteless hamburger. I highly doubt the founders of Weaverville ever thought 36 acres of parking lots just wouldn’t be enough in one spot.

[Council] needs to remain true to the citizens: Stay Weaverville. Instead of giving tax incentives and other concessions to developers, support local entrepreneurs and ideas which keep the town unique and flavorful. The town could provide incentives and opportunities for local artisans and citizens to maintain the small-town feel and advance the unique creativity of the residents of Weaverville, instead of lining the pockets of a multimillion-dollar developer from Charlotte. There is an old community building at Lake Louise that is in dire need of sprucing up. Revitalizing it would create a hub for the town to center around.

The future of towns like Weaverville is not set in stone. The people always have a say in everything that happens in their town. I don’t think the Council’s decision was well considered, though, and I will do everything I can to stop this bland and faceless piece of tasteless stucco from becoming my neighbor. If you think the rezoning is a good idea, you are entitled to your (wrong) opinion, and in the meantime, you can drive six miles to the nearest big box. Or is it five? Just kidding.

And by the way, Mike’s Main Street Grill in Weaverville has the best-tasting burgers in the world.

— Chris Bauer
Weaverville, USA

Richmond Hill is a done deal

As suggested in Neville Handel’s commentary [“Don’t Let Asheville Trash Richmond Hill Park,” Nov. 16], I did send my concerns about the Richmond Hill development to Asheville City Council. I received a reply from Councilmember [now Mayor] Terry Bellamy, after she investigated the situation.

Ms. Bellamy was advised by Bob Oast, city attorney, that the city “entered into an agreement with the National Guard for the joint use of the facility” in 2003, and in June of this year approved the acquisition of property for access to the planned armory off the currently dead-end Richmond Hill Drive. “If construction has not commenced, it is about to commence,” Ms. Bellamy wrote to me, adding: “This was a difficult transaction to pull together — and took years — but I think that everything is done now, and there is nothing else requiring action by Council as far as land use or property conveyances.”

Given Ms. Bellamy’s reponse, I suggest that Mr. Handel do his homework before taking the time to write about a done deal. Or did he mean to point to yet another mishandling by City Council of such development and contracts?

— Susan Stewart

Kennel club omitted a downside

The letter “Kennel Club Still Follows Giant Footprints” (Nov. 23) portrayed the Asheville Kennel Club (AKC) as a major force in the humane care of animals in our area. I appreciate some of their positive efforts, but the writer conveniently left out a sinister side. The AKC took the lead in opposing city and county ordinances requiring that dogs and cats either have an unaltered-animal permit or be spayed and neutered, working against the very groups they claim to work with.

In 2004, approximately 6,000 animals were euthanized in Buncombe County. Most were healthy; they died simply because there were no homes available. The AKC works tirelessly, along with the American Kennel Club, to oppose any and all restrictions on breeding. Fortunately, the City Council and county commissioners saw through the self-interest of the AKC and passed ordinances encouraging spaying and neutering. The county ordinance, enacted first, has been very successful, with 1,475 fewer animals being euthanized in the first year. The city ordinance will, no doubt, also substantially reduce the killing. Shamefully, the AKC is actively working to have the ordinances overturned.

Approximately 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebreds, yet the AKC promotes the breeding of more animals. They are only interested in what benefits them, and will not take responsibility for their complicity in the mass killing of animals at the shelter. Bringing animals into the world when so many are routinely killed and dumped into the landfill is an obscenity. Breeding equals killing, plain and simple.

— Terri David

If you smoke, don’t drink

Criticizing television is about as productive as criticizing the local paper or Congress, so perhaps this is another exercise in futility. More fruitless, still, is criticizing TV ads, but maybe just a teeny complaint about a trend in TV advertising will sneak past their radar.

My wife and I recently watched a half-hour show on local TV that included three separate liquor ads. Not beer, but straight-out, real-man’s liquor. This was about 7:30 in the evening, and to this viewer, it did seem a bit excessive. When was the ban against liquor advertising on TV eliminated? I must not have been paying attention. Maybe when Gen. Colin Powell’s son got appointed FCC director?

I don’t think liquor should be advertised on TV, but soon we’ll see cigarette ads back, and they used to be entertaining. Maybe the trend is in the right direction after all.

— Allen Thomas

Total up this cost

The name George Bush strikes a chord these days. But what really matters is the waste of money and lives and the resulting worldwide suffering caused by the decision to invade Iraq. Consider that in October 2005, a report by the Congressional Research Service concluded that $251 billion had been appropriated for the Iraqi war up to that point. Comparatively, the United States could do any of the following with this money:

• Give health insurance to 130 million children for one year

• Hire 3.8 million public school teachers for one year

• Provide 10 million four-year, public-university scholarships

• Build 2 million housing units

• Fully fund anti-hunger efforts for nine years

• Fully fund global AIDS programs for 22 years

• Give every child in the world basic immunization for 74 years ($3 billion per year is needed to immunize every child in the developing world from vaccine-preventable diseases; 3 million children die every year from lack of these vaccines)

As of November, the federal government had spent $18 billion in Katrina rebuilding, a total expected to reach $100-$200 billion. Everyone is arguing over who is going to pay for it.

These are just a few of the important issues that could have been supported by the funds appropriated to a war that evidently was begun under false pretenses.

Right now, the number of U.S. war casualties have surpassed 2,000. What about injuries? I bet there are five times as many serious injuries as deaths, but I couldn’t find statistics on that. I couldn’t find statistics on Iraqi military deaths, either, but a reporter for The Washington Post did a study on Iraqi civilian deaths last month. Based on a door-to-door survey of 7,868 people in 33 neighborhoods, selected to provide a representative sampling, it was concluded that over 100,000 civilians have died because of the invasion. I don’t even want to think about how many serious injuries were inflicted on Iraqi civilians.

One more perspective: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 290 million people living in the United States. If $250 billion has been spent so far in Iraq, each American could have — instead — received $862 in cold hard cash. In November, Congress passed a bill appropriating a “cost of living increase” of $3,100 for its members. I think the average American making an average American salary could have used $862 to help with living expenses a little bit more than a congressman who was already paid $160,000.

Numbers are reality. Halliburton reported a 284 percent increase in operating profits in the second quarter of 2005. George Bush is only a pawn in a game played by bigger, greedier fish that have hijacked this country. And if it took you two minutes to read this, the United States spent approximately $185,000 in Iraq during that time.

— John Kelleher

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