How did Xpress readers process all the local news and changes this year? Here’s a look at the topics that generated the most commentaries, letters to the editor and online comments in Xpress in 2019.
“Housing is in short supply and unaffordable. Rather than take an honest and comprehensive look at the issues, barriers and contributors to the problems, however, we in Asheville have smugly chosen the easy way out.”
“In fairy tales perhaps, evil outsiders raise their own rent, but in reality, rents are set by local property owners and local real estate developers.”
“The creativity of our small city enthralled the people from the North and South. But soon the starving artists had to move away themselves because they no longer could live here.”
“Low wages, corporate landlords, lack of rent control, high prices, brutal traffic, the fake homeless, street crime and white collar crime have all combined to make Asheville an increasingly undesirable place in which to call home.”
“Eight percent of our urban forest — all the trees in Asheville — were lost in the past 10 years.”
” I would ask for plan transparency, some preservation of the environment and safety for pre-existing homeowners. So far we know nothing.”
A Vegas-based developer wants to build a resort in the mountains outside Asheville. To do so, he would need commissioners to amend Buncombe County’s zoning ordinance. Staff in the county planning department have recommended that commissioners reject the changes.
“Oh happy day,” proclaimed Council member Sheneika Smith after the unanimous appointment vote for the city’s most powerful unelected official. “As an organization, as a city, and even the county is rejoicing today.”
“Asheville can become a gilded city, where locals drink from gold-plated reusable straws and feel good about themselves, or it can strive toward a more inclusive vision.”
“The point is that all of the unique, lovely, authentic spaces in this town are rapidly being snatched up and turned into something ubiquitous, bland and elitist.”
“Before the project proposal goes to the City Council, I implore Asheville Planning and Zoning to decline the 104-foot height variation from the existing 80-foot code.”
“So in the name of progress, neighborhoods are being displaced, communities’ concerns are being ignored, and the people charged to serve the greater good have given over to the avarice of so-called ‘progress.'”
“I can’t help but wonder why they would say no to the East Asheville development but approve a another development that mirrors it in so many ways …”
2018’s annual joint meeting of Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners highlighted issues of racial equity, police use-of-force and zoning conflicts affecting Buncombe residents.
“While affordable housing is important, shoving developments through in a covert manner is not the way to present new housing solutions to the community at large.”
“The ordinances, as they stand today, are written in such a way that any developer can easily take advantage and get approved with guidelines that are shortsighted for today’s standards and sustainability plan.”
“I am deeply horrified to learn that Hathaway Development, a non-Asheville developer from Atlanta, wants to put a high-density apartment complex on 29 acres on Country Oak.”