Woe is Woodfin

After reading “The Price of Progress” in the Xpress [Jan. 24], it made me wonder if Woodfin is becoming an environmental disaster dump. First they gave us roof-to-roof hillside building on Reynolds Mountain. One must drive by to witness the distortion to the natural beauty of the mountain. And that distortion is [in addition to] the environmental problems written about the Reynolds Mountain development in the Xpress.

But Reynolds Mountain wasn’t enough environmental damage for Woodfin, as now they are giving us the new Progress Energy power plant. The new plant will sit on the French Broad River between Asheville and Weaverville, a [relative] stone’s throw of six to eight miles in either direction. Downwind, the plant’s pollution will drift into Asheville and through some of the most pristine neighborhoods, such as Beaver Lake, Lake Shore and Beaverdam etc. And if it turns upwind: New Stock, Jupiter and Weaverville—all areas that will be heavily developed in the next five years. And let’s not forget the Woodfin residents. They will get the worst of it.

While there is obviously no good site in Buncombe to put a [low-]sulfur oil-burning power plant, the Board of Commissioners should have talked with all their constituents as well as Progress Energy before they made their choice. Perhaps what the commission didn’t consider was that the projected I-26 connector corridor will open the entire northwest Buncombe to development. And did the commission consider how these deadly emissions will affect the French Broad River watershed, which will impact all residential development in and around the river. If one looks at the big picture, it makes absolutely no sense fiscally or environmentally to build a plant on a site that will affect some of the most-populated and soon-to-be-populated areas in the county.

It’s almost as if the county commission was intentionally trying to pollute the most people they can by choosing the Woodfin site. This is not a “not in my backyard” argument; it’s facts and numbers of real people who will be hurt by those deadly emissions. The county commission should start counting heads and consider energy alternatives, and if that doesn’t work, find a less sensitive and more environmentally friendly site.


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