Give professionals some credit

I would like to point out several inaccuracies in the article “Council Considers Partisan Elections, Steps Back from Steep Slopes” by Brian Postelle [“Just the Facts,” May 16].

The article stated: “Trying to better illustrate what the slopes in question look like, Carroll trotted out landscape designer Martin Kocott, who, bearing a tape measure and yardstick, demonstrated 20 percent and 30 percent slopes. ‘This is very buildable in my world,’ Kocott said of the 30 percent slope.”

I attended the City Council meeting, along with Martin Kocot, in order to repeat a presentation we had made earlier in the week to CIBO [Council of Independent Business Owners], demonstrating the grade on a 30-percent slope in order to offer analysis as to whether it was buildable or not for a residence. CIBO offered to give up their minutes to speak at City Council so that we could repeat the presentation; they did not “trot” us out. We attended as land planners with experience dealing with mountain terrain and steep slopes, as our exhibits show, and as citizens of Asheville, N.C.

Mr. Kocot is a licensed professional engineer with the local interdisciplinary firm LandDesign Inc., and has nearly 20 years experience as a civil engineer, most of it here in Western North Carolina. I am a registered Landscape Architect in the same office and have worked with him on many conservation site plans. We are well acquainted with mountain development and land planning that prevents erosion, controls storm drainage by incorporating best management practices and protects open spaces by focusing on the best buildable areas by using technology such as slope-analysis maps. In fact, professionals in our office have helped towns such as Waynesville write text amendments in order to introduce a conservation-design approach to residential development that identifies buildable “pockets” or “envelopes” of land within the overall land parcel that are suitable for development and construction (placement) of residential structures, but strictly limit land disturbance and density within the parcel while encouraging open space and preservation of the existing land. This experience makes us well qualified to comment on the city’s steep-slope ordinance and proposed revisions, since we deal with these issues daily. Landscape designers deal mainly with horticultural plant issues, which is very different.

— Stephanie Pankiewicz, RLA, ASLA
Senior Associate, LandDesign

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