REACHING OUT: James Lee is working with the Racial Justice Coalition to build a bridge by which vulnerable communities can have input on they way they are policed. The formation of an unprecedented community policy work group seems to be a step in that direction. Lee initially contacted chief Hooper and other city leaders about putting together a work group. Photo by Able Allen

Asheville groups seek common ground on city police Use of Force policy

While July was marked by a series of protests, rallies and demands for changes to the APD’s approach to policing in the city’s marginalized communities — especially its 11 public housing neighborhoods — August saw a shift in tone, with the outline of a collaborative process arising out of discussions among the APD, City Council and a wide range of community groups convened by the Racial Justice Coalition.

Condo owner Geoff Kemmish (left) reviews four options proposed by engineers for routing the Beaucatcher Greenway past The Sky Club. Sue Peterson (r) also owns property along the proposed greenway and maintains that the plans encroach on her land. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Forest for the trees? Residents seek answers on Beaucatche­r Greenway

To make way for the planned Beaucatcher Greenway, how many trees must be cut to preserve the forest? And does significant construction on steep sections make sense to begin with? Those are among the questions being asked by residents at both ends of the planned greenway route — and they say the city’s answers have been few and far between.

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Asheville inches closer to police body camera rollout

The Asheville Police Department trails the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office in rolling out police body cameras — but the city is trying to catch up. Police Chief Tammy Hooper outlined a draft policy for the cameras at a recent panel discussion, and says the first cameras will be deployed by summer. We look into what needs to happen between now and then to make that schedule happen.

URBAN FOREST  Unaware of the controversy over their fate, 23 mature oaks stand on a knoll overlooking Coxe Avenue. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Oaks’ last stand: South Slope urban forest won’t get city funds

If the 23 mature oak trees at 11 Collier Ave. on Asheville’s South Slope are to escape the chainsaw, it will have to be without the city’s help. While City Council followed through on its commitment to explore possible strategies for preserving the urban forest, in the end Council decided that committing resources to the effort in advance of significant private fundraising wasn’t a responsible use of taxpayer assets.

Following a moment of silence in remembrance of former Councilman Marc Hunt's son Taylor, Boy Scout Troop 91 led the Pledge of Allegiance. Photo by Virginia Daffron

City Council to take steps on expanding Homestays, planning for park

In its first full meeting since three newly-elected Council members were seated, City Council moved in new directions on a public space for a city-owned lot on Haywood Street and on including some accessory dwelling units in the city’s homestay ordinance for short-term rentals. Council also considered downtown development review standards and passed a resolution on the I-26 connector project.