Missing a few facts?

It was very disappointing to read Brian Postelle’s “Just the Facts” article [“Peace Talks,” Sept. 5] regarding the Greenlife/Maxwell Street truck issue. In the past, the Xpress has generally been thorough and unbiased in its coverage of the issue, but that journalistic standard dropped significantly with this article.

According to Postelle, “two years after … Greenlife says it’s ready to take steps to address the problems.” This language is very misleading. In fact, Greenlife has been actively “taking steps” with city staff and members of Council for over a year to develop a plan to improve the truck situation on Maxwell Street. We have also voluntarily taken many other steps since we opened three years ago, [such as] restricting staff parking on Maxwell Street, lowering sound levels by installing a noise abatement wall and installing trash compactors instead of noisy dumpsters, installing a privacy fence and landscaping along our entire loading area, containing and processing runoff water to keep it out of the street, redirecting parking-lot floodlight coverage to avoid neighborhood homes, managing our delivery drivers to reduce truck traffic on Maxwell Street and restricting our receiving hours—steps all taken in response to neighborhood concerns. Many of these actions were taken in direct response to complaints from Reid Thompson. Our plan to improve the truck-delivery configuration was delayed only while we studied the potential negative repercussions to the plan resulting from Thompson’s lawsuit against us.

[Such] language [as] “businesses’ violations of the UDO” and “those complaints were supported by a consultant’s report” is also very misleading. As reported to Council by [interim] Planning Director Shannon Tuch last week, her interpretation of the UDO affirms the interpretation of her predecessor, Scott Shuford: that Greenlife is not in violation of the UDO. To the contrary—and in spite of various, very vocal armchair experts’ interpretations of the UDO—we have never been in violation of the UDO, according to the city. Furthermore, one of the key findings in the report from the consultant was that portions of the UDO were contradictory, unclearly written, and could be interpreted in different ways. This hardly constitutes support for the complaints, but [it] does point to the shortcomings of the UDO, which city planning staff has been diligently and successfully working to improve ever since the consultant’s report came out.

Greenlife has always been committed to actively working to address any legitimate concerns of our neighbors or the city. We would ask our critics to work with us in a cooperative and nonconfrontational manner—a standard of civilized behavior that seems difficult for some people in our community to attain.

We would also ask that future reporting done by Mr. Postelle and the Xpress on Greenlife/Maxwell Street issues be more thorough and unbiased. “Just the Facts,” if you please.

— John Swann, Greenlife Grocery
Asheville

Brian Postelle responds: While Mr. Swann is correct that Greenlife has taken several steps to respond to noise complaints about the store’s loading docks and other concerns, none of those measures solves the problems with either the buffer or the delivery trucks on Maxwell Street that were referenced in the Owens report. He is also correct in noting that that report identified numerous contradictions and unclear guidelines in the UDO.

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4 thoughts on “Missing a few facts?

  1. lokel

    Mr. Postelle continues his snarky commentary here again.

    The store is not now, nor has it ever been in violation of the UDO: the City agrees, Greenlife agrees, it is the not in my backyard” crowd that refuses to hear and accept the truth.

    That location has been a commercial site for as long as I can recall, and I have lived here almost my entire life. It was originally an A&P;grocery.

    It seems to me that the whiners on Maxwell street should have opened their eyes and looked around (and across the street) and noticed that they were moving into a heavily commercial area that might, just might have delivery trucks and city service vehicles coming and going.

  2. SeeingThrough FogMakers

    Audio of John Swan’s message to Maxwell Street Residents

    http://www.ourasheville.org/greenlife/images-data/050830-johnswan.wav

    Mr. Swann also told his neighbor: “F*** You, the mayor is my attorney you better get used to it. It’s going to be this way from now on!”

    Fact John Swann never hired a land planner. He hired his buddy Charles Worley hour sitting Mayor at the time Scott Shuford maid these illegal decisions without authority or public process.

    I think the audio of John Swann says it all.

  3. sonjia

    lokel:

    yes, that was an A and P MANY years ago, but when most of those people moved in it was, and had been for quite a while, a big, empty building and parking lot.

    the way you describe it makes it sound like they moved next door to Greenlife and then complained about it. The residents of Maxwell St. moved in, in most cases, well before greenlife, and then were told by both the city and greenlife that certain rules would be followed and they werent.

    i, Personally (also local) would love to see the city come down a little harder on these businesses that screw the community. asheville was doing just fine before the likes of greenlife and staples, we dont need our ‘elected officials’ bending over backyards to accomodate them and their rule-breaking.

  4. Aliasjoe

    Lokel:
    The building stopped being an A&P;in 1981.
    The A&P;did not have 75′ long delivery trucks from California making an average of 2.79 deliveries a day, every day all year.
    The A&P;did not have two loading zones on Maxwell and no one has been able to produce any substantial evidence exhibiting where the loading was. Legally, it doesn’t matter, becuase the current law states that loading isn’t legal off a residential street. So the law is on the “whiners on Maxwell”‘s side. Should these whiners have to hire their own attroneys and planners to point out the obvious to the people we pay our tax dollars to? When we have a legal process that would have to be follow to get these docks installed, why wasn’t it followed? If you were to have a loading dock or two stuck in across the street from you and the law said that it should happen where you get a public hearing to speak your peace, and this project got loading bays with no public hearing; would you be a whiner? You really need to read the Xpress article that was written about this last year. I think its still online. It does a great job explaining what went wrong. We make laws to protect people from these situations and being harmed.

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