Backing Bothwell

If you want to have a chance to stop developers from paving that last, sumptuous green space in your neighborhood, vote for Cecil Bothwell for Asheville City Council. If you want to really try to save ridge lines, Asheville's quality of life and our basic resources of clean air and water — vote Bothwell. If you deeply need to try to kill the root causes of poverty rather than launch high-profile campaigns that actually do little — vote Bothwell. If you fervently long that your job have a chance of becoming more humane and secure — vote Bothwell.

I've known Mr. Bothwell for 20 years and he's always taken consistent, brave and eloquent stands on the above progressive issues. He will not sound like a deep environmentalist during the campaign, and then plant superficial LEEDS lilies around the casket of our ecology when elected.

— Bill Branyon
Asheville

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10 thoughts on “Backing Bothwell

  1. J

    If I recall correctly, Cecil has employed the use of solar panels for years.

    I think what Bill is trying to say is that if Cecil is elected, he will continue to push for the use of more renewables post election, as he believes it is important enough to do in his own personal life, and on his own dollar.

    It’s something when a candidate walks their talk.

  2. hauntedheadnc

    As I recall, Bill Branyon is the guy who said that all growth in Asheville must be stopped. Which is fine, if you don’t ming seeing everyone who wants to live here locate in subdivisions smeared across the county’s mountains instead…

    I think I’d prefer a candidate who is willing to work for good growth, not just another NIMBY who wants to stop growth period.

  3. I appreciate and value Bill’s endorsement, since he has been involved in community issues here for a long time and has been willing to put his name on his opinions in print for years.

    I’d like to make it clear that I don’t oppose growth or development. I oppose badly planned development and support equal enforcement of development rules with a strong component of public input. There are times and places where a new park does more for our quality of life than a new building that provides short-term employment for out-of-town steel workers and long-term employment for housekeepers, while drawing more traffic, demanding more power and blocking mountain views for current residents. Building is not, per se, progress. (And some NIMBYism is good: it kept the Feds from siting a nuclear waste dump in WNC, it kept the Grove Park Inn from building a high rise on City/County Plaza, it stopped Progress Energy from building an archaic diesel plant in Woodfin. There are things a lot of us don’t want in our back yards. I’d bet there wouldn’t be nerve gas buried in Swannanoa if citizens there had been given a vote.)

    Also I’d like to point out that there is no linkage between development in the city and sprawl because the city and county rules are separate. We could solidly pack downtown with forty story buildings and still see “subdivisions smeared across the county’s mountains.” We need county-wide zoning and steep slope rules to protect our water supply, public safety and our viewshed, but none of that has any connection to city construction.

    We do need to shape our city development to emphasize density along transit corridors, to do a better job of preserving urban trees, to create neighborhoods with walkable access to essential goods and services and with sidewalks and bike lanes that interlock with bus routes to facilitate the coming decline in automotive transportation. All of those can make urban living an attractive alternative to driving to distant suburban tracts where you need to get in your car to obtain food and consumer goods or do anything in the public sphere.

  4. James L

    Aw geesh…There goes the “strong component of public input” mantra which is simply a disguise on the same old “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. Public input applies to the establishing of laws and regulations on development or other issues which are then enforced by professionals in the field.

    This notion of requiring extensive input on every project is just the politically correct way of saying we want to tell others what to do with their property. Property owners should not get to do anything they want, nor should they be subject to faux activists controlling the lawful exercise of their property rights.

    Earth to Asheville Activists: The fact that you have an opinion does not equate to you getting your way, or even entitle you to input at every turn.

    True, the Grove Park Inn was shut out of constructing a building near the park which would have generated substantial tax dollars. Instead, we now get to have a palatial office building sitting on the park land run by yet another squatting non-profit that will pay no property taxes and ultimately require tax dollars to maintain. It’s these outcomes that scream how we need competent professionals making development decisions, not self proclaimed experts with little more than an attitude to back up their rhetoric.

  5. hauntedheadnc

    Cecil, it sounds like you have a grasp of good urban design, but the question is will you allow it when developers propose to build it?

    Or will it be too dense?

    Too tall?

    Too urban?

    Will we hear the same arguments in the future that we’ve heard every single time in the past?

    Also, it seems to me the connection is clear between city growth and county sprawl. Asheville is the attraction and reason that people live here. Stop growth in the city or stifle it, and people will still want to be here, and they’ll happily settle for merely being near it rather than in it.

    However, our current housing situation, not to mention independent studies, have shown that if given a reasonably-priced urban alternative to sprawl, a large number of people will choose the urban alternative. Will you allow it to be built, though — especially considering that the only way to build economically on high-priced downtown land is to build up? You don’t want vertical growth. You’ve admitted it. You even put it in print in your guide to Asheville. One of the reasons why is “vertical walkability” or some such in preparation for a future without the electricity it takes to run an elevator.

    Describe for me the perfect downtown project, and the kind you would allow to be built as a city councilman.

    (Assuming, of course, that the rules proposed by the downtown master plan are in place and the project actually is large enough to require your approval.)

  6. “Also I’d like to point out that there is no linkage between development in the city and sprawl because the city and county rules are separate”

    Yes there is a direct linkage, because the rules are separate. The county is much easier & cheaper to develop ergo incentive to build in county, to not see this logic is odd.

    I am all for more parks downtown, but you need more people living downtown for those parks to thrive. The new City/ County park eventually will need residential units(probably fairly tall) adjacent to it, great parks are surrounded by people living and working.

  7. James L

    “Also I’d like to point out that there is no linkage between development in the city and sprawl because the city and county rules are separate”

    How far out of touch can one get? It’s precisely that kind of naive outlook of some candidates for local office that demands this community produce better informed and competent candidates than the bunch we have in front of us currently.

  8. Agreed, we need height in many places. I favor the recommendation in the Downtown Master Plan that tends to favor placing taller buildings at lower elevations. (The South Slope is specifically mentioned.)The relatively new building on S. Lexington makes good use of urban space (and has a green roof which makes it look odd, but functional is good.)

    As a counter example, I think the (approved but stalled) Ellington is way out of scale with its surroundings.

    I oppose the Parkside project not because of its scale, but because it encroaches on the view corridor which the city and county agreed we should maintain from the Vance Monument to city hall and the courthouse. (Not to mention the illegal sale of park property to the developer.) The rules should apply to everyone, equally. Many urban parks are beautifully defined by residential high-rise structures.

    James, I don’t favor public input on every project. I favor public input on the rules, as happened with the long DTMP process. Now that plan has to be codified, and I see room for public input as the actual rules are hammered out. Not in the sense of revisiting the previous review process, but by saying: “This modification to the UDO will implement This piece of the DTMP. Does that make sense?” I agree we need to rely on competent professionals to guide the process and write the rules, but professionals can make mistakes too and offering proposed rules to the public will have them examined by other professional architects, builders, tree experts, traffic designers, etc., who may see those flaws.

    I am opposed to the planned Conservancy offices on the park, by the way, as I am opposed to an information center there. I don’t understand the need for that organization to continue in any large configuration after the park is (finally) finished and the maintenance fund is established. And we surely have more than enough information for any reasonable visitor at the mega Chamber of Commerce a short walk from downtown.

  9. Oh, I didn’t describe a “perfect” downtown project, because I don’t think there is one. I think the DTMP goes a long way toward steering us toward good projects.

    One thing I’d like to explore (and it will take considerable study, so isn’t likely to happen soon) is the question of solar rights. As solar power becomes a bigger piece of our energy picture, those rights will become urgent. (We’re already seeing many solar hot-water installations downtown.) How do we protect access to the sun? Would a permit for a building that overshadows a neighboring building that already has a solar hot water system have to pay in some way? Perhaps grant rights to a solar location on the new building and pay to move the array? This isn’t just about money at that point, it is about reducing the city’s carbon footprint overall.

    Anyway, just a thought there.

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