The elephant in the room

As someone who participated in a few Downtown Master Plan sessions, I take issue with Tom Coppola’s letter [“City of the Future,” Oct. 15]. His vision for Asheville creates a small Charlotte in the mountains, and that’s not what many of us in the community wish. Sure, Asheville will grow. Developers and our city/county government seem set on making that happen. Sure, the city will change, as some tall buildings inevitably appear in our skyline. But the point of a master plan is to control the growth and protect those assets the city values: a human-sized downtown, independent stores, a vibrant art scene, quality neighborhoods, and view-corridors to see the surrounding undeveloped mountains. All these things are possible with controlled growth.

I still think The Ellington (which I call The Elephant) was a bad idea. While it has some attractive features, it will simply overwhelm its neighbors. You can expect to see more development along that little stretch of Biltmore Avenue in the years ahead as quaint two- to three-story commercial buildings are torn down because they are “inadequate” tax bases. In reality, they are too small to stand against The Elephant.

Why City Council didn’t call for a building moratorium downtown while the Master Plan was finished is beyond me. The plan might be obsolete by the time it’s released, which, to a cynic, might be the whole point. I hope not. I hope we can save the parts of Asheville that make it wonderful to live and visit here. I hope we can preserve the culture that inspired so many to move here (including me). I hope we can defend the magnolia tree while accommodating growth. That’s my vision of the future.

— Mark Bloom
Asheville

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One thought on “The elephant in the room

  1. nuvue

    Mark, I think the economy will control growth way better than any plan. That said, I also believe a plan is a good thing as well as open discussion and thought. What’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander, everybody will have a different vision. I do mourn the loss of the countryside and can’t believe the growth outside a-ville.
    Some high rises in town will help defray some of the urban sprawl but talk to any Real estater and everyone wants a 2 ac. cabin with a stream….

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