No More Artist Representation, Form Based Code, Appraisers & Lawyers Update as of December 2015

AARRC MEMBERSHIP CHANGES


The AARRC (Asheville's City commission that runs the RADTIP project, controls all development projects along the French Broad (RAD) and Swannanoa River, etc.) is getting new membership:

NO MORE ARTIST REPRESENTATION

AARRC Membership Terms Ending


Pattiy Torno, member since its inception, current chairwoman, River Arts District property owner and artist) is leaving as of the end of the year.  Who will fill her spot? 

Not another artist apparently …  which means there will BE NO ARTIST REPRESENTATION on this commission that controls the River ARTS District. Guess what they are seeking? A design professional. But, hmmm, a design professional already is on this Committee so they want two? Guess so. What? Yep, Carleton Collins (current Vice Chairman and member of the subcommittee, The River Arts District Design Review Committee which was absorbed by the AARRC) is taking Pattiy's place. Rather than seeking an artist, they feel they need another design professional (architect or some sort). Stephanie Brown (Explore Asheville) takes vice chairman position.


Jerry Vehaun's (Woodfin Mayor) term also ends.  Town Manager, Jason Young, has been appointed to fill his seat.

Ricky Silver's term is also ending but that position is appointed by The Buncombe County Commission and it has not yet been determined who that will be.

Essentially, this commission is now made up of a) developers b) developer/design professionals c)local municipalities d) tourism professionals.  No artists and certainly no one with their property being adversely impacted.

FORM BASED CODE


Long time resident and property owner and self-proclaimed "head of the River Rats," Jerry Sternberg raised a ruckus over the planned form based code (see this previous post with his speech), which the City hopes to implement in spring 2016 in the River Arts District.   He proposed a resolution to the AARRC:

"Our purpose here is to respectfully request that the portion of this zoning plan west of the Norfolk and southern rail road tracks that rezones the river district be removed from the proposal."


That is basically all the properties along the French Broad in the River Arts District.  This resolution has been presented to the AARRC but a FINAL decision has NOT been made.  It was tabled in November and December. They are still hashing it out... 

RADTIP


The River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project - the main project that will completely and indelibly change the look, physical structure and character of the River Arts District is still on track - it includes changing the roadway, widening the roads and adding greenways and protected bike paths - all of these are set to go through private property along the French Broad in the River Arts District.

Appraisers & Lawyers

Property Owners on Notice

Tenants = In recent weeks property owners have been receiving calls and letters from Paul West of Gulf Coast, LLC - to conduct appraisals - we think these are real estate relocation appraisals for tenants.  

Property Owners = In addition, some local real estate appraisers have also been contacting property owners about beginning condemnation appraisals.  Property owners are busy obtaining legal counsel and beginning the battle of negotiation.  


This means the City is about to begin the largest taking of private property for a road project whose funds and main changes are being done for the benefit of New Belgium, which wants and needs enough room for 18 wheelers to travel down alongside the French Broad to get access to its pristine riverfront location.  

Jerry Sternberg Comments to Asheville City Council on Form Based Code in River Arts District


Video (22 minutes into video) and text of comments by Jerry Sternberg, delivered to Asheville City Council on Tuesday, October 27, 2015 concerning the City's push to rezone the River Arts District to Form Based Code:

"My name is  Jerry Sternberg. I am the unelected unpaid president for life of the river rats.  We are a group of river property owners and business located in the French broad and Swannanoa river basin who are dedicated to preserving our property rights and business operations.
We are extremely alarmed at the presentation of the draft for a new form based zoning ordinance proposed by the planning department of the city of Asheville for the so called RAD district.
This plan proposes to change the zoning in the river corridor from Amboy road to hill street and currently covers properties on both sides of the Norfolk and southern rail way including riverside drive depot, clingman and Roberts street area.
I have letters here signed by 70% of the river property owners whose property is included in this zoning area.  I have additional letters from river property owners whose properties are not affected by the current proposal but are certain that this form based zoning will metastasize and go north to broadway then east to Biltmore and all the way up the Swannanoa to bee tree.
We maintain that the area under consideration contains two business and development cultures.
This map shows the scope of the study.  As you can see the area east of the railroad track which for purpose of this discussion we will call the river arts district. is primarily small business and residential.
West of the track in this area is what we call the river district which is zoned mixed use ..
Our purpose here tonight is to respectfully request that the portion of this zoning plan west of the Norfolk and southern rail road tracks that rezones the river district be removed from the proposal.

Current river district zoning allows any use except lulu’s (large undesirable land uses such as a chemical  or asphalt plant. It is different from the river arts district or any other district in the city because of the proximity to and the unpredictability of the French broad and the Swannanoa rivers.
20 years ago the river rats fought shoulder to shoulder with Riverlinks to overcome the very restrictive zoning ordinance that was proposed for the river district under the UDO.  Had that zoning prevailed even the new Belgium plant would have been prohibited,
 With the cooperation between Riverlinks and the property owners the river district has gone through a miraculous transformation with parks greenways retail, residential, artist studios, restaurants, bars, recycling facilities, and heavy industry all prosperously coexisting.
Our hired guns, the contract planners from a land far away have focused on artists, retail, housing and entertainment.
They have a crystal ball that tells them what property owners and investors are going to want to build on a certain lot in the future.  They fail to take into consideration that Asheville has very little land available for manufacturing especially with rail siding and this area is the center of our recycling infrastructure.
Just a few months ago council was agonizing about rezoning property on Sardis road behind the blind workshop from manufacturing to residential because there is not enough property available in the city now for manufacturing.
The new ordinance allows for river manufacturing, whatever that is and light manufacturing but not heavy manufacturing.  If Caterpillar or a steel fabricating plant wanted to bring new high paying jobs to the river zone would they be prohibited?
Does this mean that if a new brewery opens on the river that they can only make light beer but not dark beer.
The ordinance expressly states that a recycling plant is a non-permitted use. On the other hand a recycling operation would be permitted. This prompts the question are there bad recyclers and good recyclers.
This ordinance is the poster child for subjective interpretation and enforcement.
They tell us not to worry that all of the nonconforming uses will be grandfathered.  Those of us who do business in Asheville know that if your business is flooded out, destroyed by fire or if you choose to expand or sell to another party the planning department’s definition of grandfather is a man who’s child has a child.
The river district has been particularly welcoming to the arts industry. we view artist as a very important economic driver. Asheville goes to extraordinary efforts to recycle our wastes keeping as much material as possible out of our land fill.
I ask you, are the artists going to pick up and process waste paper, scrap iron and metal, grind the mulch,  sort the contents of the blue boxes and salvage the aluminum cans and plastic bottles?
I don’t think so.
I have had conversations with some of the artist leadership. Even they are looking at this proposal with a jaundice eye.  The one thing that the river district and the artist district has in common is that they are both funky and artist thrive on funk.
If you turn riverside drive into 5th avenue the area will lose it character and the gentrification will drive the artists out.
Why not move all these objectionable recycling and manufacturing facilities off the river?  We could put them in Beaver Lake or maybe West Asheville where they already have form based code.
 Forget moving them to the county.  They already rode two recycling operations out on a rail in the last six months.
The so called expert planners from Texas have a very limited knowledge of our river.  I know there is a big push to put housing and tourist oriented business on the river and we river folks have no problem with that. We do object to a legislative effort to expel us or restrict our operations. We also have no issue with higher density for housing or increased height limitations.  Simply amend the current river zone ordinance but don’t throw the baby out in the river.
I would advise that we longtime river rats know and understand the risks and have the coping skills to survive the periodic disasters that afflict the river basin.
I remind you that in july 1916  99 years ago the French broad was a half mile wide and they were rescuing workers by boat from the second floor of the cotton mill.  It could have happened again two weeks ago or next week.
There is an old Yiddish expression. Menschen trought und gott laucht. Men try and god laughs.
Members of council our river zoning ordinance aint broke so lets not try to fix it.  Ask yourself what will this accomplish that we don’t already have.
Let the river district continue its glorious development organically and not by fiat. Please remove the changes to the river zoning from consideration."
Jerry Sternberg
October 27, 2015

Free Property Owners' Rights Seminar September 28th

FREE SEMINAR FOR PROPERTY OWNERS

Are you a property owner in the River Arts District and potentially impacted by the RADTIP (River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project), then attend this FREE seminar being conducted by the law firm, Henson Fuerst:
When: September 28th, 5:30pm
Where: Pack Memorial Library, 67 Haywood St
What will be covered:
  • Property owners' legal rights in land condemnation actions
  • A review of the maps provided by NCDOT for land and properties impacted
  • How the condemnation process works
  • Potential challenges to the RADTIP project
  • What just compensation means

48 Ft Over the Road Trucks coming to River Arts District

NEW BELGIUM TRUCK TRAFFIC ESTIMATES

104 total trips by trucks PER DAY (52 trucks per day)


12 to 52 Trucks in 6 Years
At the moment, you don't notice it because they only have about 12 round trips per day (6 trucks, both ways). But by 2022 (in 6 years), this is estimated to increase to 52 trucks per day, amounting to 104 trips.

Why does this matter?
These trucks will be rolling down Riverside Drive. For now, New Belgium is using a smaller size truck because the full size cannot fit under the Norfolk Southern Railway Bridge a/k/a Festus Bypass (this is located adjacent to Smoky Park Supper Club).

The City has started negotiations with Norfolk Southern to LOWER the road running underneath Festus Bypass.  No idea yet on the cost or if this can actually be done. As it is, that area floods during any kind of rain so lowering the road 2 or 3 feet will only make it worse.

Why will there be so many trucks?
For months and the last few years there has been a lot of discussion about truck traffic due to the impending opening of New Belgium across the French Broad River.  Why? Because the French Broad River site is the brewing site but the distribution center is in Enka-Candler. Traffic studies and alternative truck route studies were conducted.

West Asheville backlash
New Belgium began the PR machine in 2012 to help neighbors swallow the idea of massive trucks coming through their neighborhood but this was met with harsh backlash from the West Asheville neighborhood.  They certainly did not want 104 truck trips per day.  In order to achieve its needs for truck traffic, it convinced the City to lower the road running underneath Festus Bypass.

But why the fuss? 
Because the main trucks that will be traveling down Haywood and Riverside Drive, through the River Arts District, are 48 ft otr (over-the-road) trucks and this is what they look like:


Wilma Dykeman would roll in her grave if she saw these.  We don't think this is what she envisioned would be rolling along the French Broad River. How many of these? According to the City and New Belgium's truck analysis, when they are at full capacity,

How do we know this? Straight from the horse's mouth:


Perhaps New Belgium will keep using the smaller trucks in which case, that probably means more than the 52 trucks planned for.



New Belgium & City of Asheville: Conflicts of Interest Do Not Apply

In our research we learned that the Economic Development Agreement, part of MOU between New Belgium and the City of Asheville agreed to exclude one particular law: Conflicts of Interest.  Why? Because both the City of Asheville and New Belgium knew that they would be running roughshod over that very law.  In other words, there would be a lot of back scratching which we have written about before (click here and here).  Here is one example in which one of the City Attorneys, yep, your City Attorney, is not only trying to take care of one her bestfriend's friend but also seeking a position for herself with New Belgium.

In this email exchange January 13 and 14, 2015, Jannice Ashley, one of the City of Asheville's attorneys, ask about a position for her bestfriend's friend and gently inquires about New Belgium's hiring of legal staff. Keep in mind, that Jannice Ashley, is one of the attorneys for the City and has been meeting with property owners, including us, about the eminent domain process happening in the River Arts District. Specifically, she met with us about 5 Riverside Drive in which that property will be taken so that a road can run through it to allow for New Belgium's trucks along Riverside Drive. Who do you think she is negotiating for? She clearly doesn't represent the property  owners and will not be fully forthcoming in that information. She clearly wishes to leave the City of Asheville so our guess is, she will be doing everything to grease the wheels for New Belgium.

Click on email to enlarge.


Joe Davis, the New Belgium representative, replies with this:


And then Jannice responds with this:

We already saw how conflicts of interest work when it comes to New Belgium. The very same guy hired by the City of Asheville who did the study on alternative truck routes for New Belgium, went to work for New Belgium. He is now their number #1 guy handling the construction.  It looks like everyone wants to get in on the action.  You can read all about that here.

City of Asheville Releases Right of Way Acquisition Process for River Arts District


The City of Asheville updated its RADTIP project on August 19, 2015:

Click here to read

The final design for the project is underway. The City is beginning the right of way acquisition process and will hold a public meeting on September 24. We will continue meet with stakeholder groups to gather input on public art opportunities and streetscape design through Spring 2016.

Timeline for RADTIP Property Acquisition Process 
The property acquisition process will include a combination of easement acquisitions and fee simple purchases depending upon the location of the property.

Properties involving relocation will be the first to be addressed in the process. The acquisition process should begin no sooner than September of 2015 and must be completed by June of 2016.

The following timeline represents an estimation of the earliest date that a property can be subject to the RADTIP property acquisition process:

  • September to November 2015: Pre-acquisition activities (e.g. appraisals, surveys, appraisal review, etc.)
  • December 2015- Offers delivered to owner and Notice of Relocation to landlord/tenant on the same day
  • Tenant relocation services begin when the notice is delivered.
  • Tenants are notified that they will have at least 90 days to vacate.

AARRC July Meeting Notes: Knoxville Plan not working; Duke Substation not following landscaping & what is TPDF?

Rather than put all the minutes from the July meeting of the AARRC, we'll just put the highlights here. If you wish to read the entire thing, visit their website here.

2. RETREAT RECAP

Vice Chair Collins recapped the retreat to Knoxville, TN. Members met with planners and learned about their riverfront redevelopment initiatives. Vice Chair Collins felt they did a good job in the redesign, but have not seen significant redevelopment. The group toured the south riverfront. He felt that the downtown was very disconnected from the river. A new form-based code zone is across a bridge. The river is much different than ours. The panel discussed river history and planning. Members then discussed what they learned and what they could bring back. The Commissioners learned that the recreational opportunities are very different there. They have had a vigorous public input process, and utilized public-private partnerships. Councilman Davis stated that the City of Knoxville isn’t really further along than we are.

Joel Burgess wrote a nice article and Mr. Davis recommended the commission send him a note. Ms. Ball is collating the post-its. Chair Torno wondered how the form-based code area felt, but it had been blocked off during the trip. In attendance were 9 commissioners, 9 staff, Councilwoman Gwen Wisler, and two reporters.

Our Comments:  Looks like we're doing EXACTLY as Knoxville. We'll be just like them instead of unique.
Here's the description from their website;  just trade out "South Waterfront" for River Arts District and "University" for New Belgium.
Some of the public improvements include a continuous pedestrian/bicycle riverwalk along the shoreline, parks and green spaces, new and reconstructed streets, a new pedestrian/bicycle bridge connecting the South Waterfront to the University campus, sidewalks, bike lanes, and parking. It is anticipated that these public improvements will stimulate private investment, resulting in the addition of new residential, commercial, retail, and recreational opportunities. These public-private partnerships are intended to benefit residents, businesses, visitors, and the City's tax base. The intent of the Vision Plan is to create a safe, secure, attractive, and walkable series of mixed use developments that complement and connect to the downtown and the university.
Only one problem: they started in 2008 and it has done nothing.   They expect 20 years before it takes off.

3. STAFF UPDATES

a. TPDF (Tourism Product Development Fund)

City Staff submitted Phase I and have been invited to submit Phase II for connector between Craven St Greenway and existing greenway, velodrome rebuild, and Beaucatcher Greenway development dollars, and pedestrian amenities and improvements to connect Amboy and the future river access point. The City is asking for $2 million, and the AARRC can write a letter of support. City staff will submit the application, do a tour in the fall, and the announcements will be made in October. Chair Torno supports AARRC writing a letter, which is due prior to the next AARRC meeting. The fund has approximately $4 million to give total. Ms Monson will send the final submitted application to the committee for reference. 

Chair Torno recommended an offer to provide a tour in their letter of support. Chair Torno will create the letter and send it out.

5. NEW BUSINESS

Design Review: Duke Energy Swannanoa Sub Station Project

Vice Chair Collins reviewed the substation project, which will double the size of the existing substation in the area. This will require retaining walls because there will be a cut in the hillside, as the addition will be several feet above the existing equipment. The design is proposing a soil nail wall with a naturalized appearance to retain existing vegetation, and a fence above. Vice Chair Collins showed photos and a site plan. The designer is working to screen the substation by heavily planting and providing additional view buffers along property line. The buffering is required by the landscaping requirement, and Vice Chair Collins felt that the buffering is adequate. They have provided a stormwater retention system. The subcommittee recommended the wall be a color that matches the surrounding vegetation in winter.

Committee provided a lot of good input that has been incorporated.

Ms Monson reviewed the process. They are not meeting landscaping requirements, so they will be going to Tree Commission on July 20 and committee input will be provided to the Tree Commission at that time. The project is not required to provide sidewalk, but they are interested. Planning and Design Review Committee recognizes that this design needs to implement the multimodal goals of the Wilma Dykeman Master Plan. The comments the commissioners made today will be moved forward to the Tree Commission immediately.

Vice Chair Collins made motion that AARRC vote to approve the project as it does meet the intent and spirit of the guidelines if an effort is made to replace the invasive plants with native noninvasive, and choose a specific color for the retaining wall. Mr. Morasani seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
Our Comments: So, the only problem they had with this was not following the tree ordinance?

AARRC Monthly Meeting: August 13, 2015

ASHEVILLE AREA RIVERFRONT REDEVELOPMENT COMMISSION
ASHEVILLE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, SECOND FLOOR BOARD ROOM
THURSDAY, AUGUST 13TH AT 4PM

4 PM CALL TO ORDER

   APPROVAL OF MINUTES

4:05 PM SUBCOMMITTEE UPDATES

  • Planning and Design Review Committee – Carleton Collins
  • Networking Committee – Peter Sprague

4:20 PM STAFF UPDATES

  • Project Sheet
  • TPDF Application
  • City of Asheville Staffing Updates

4:30 PM UNFINISHED BUSINESS

  • Form-Based Code/Rezoning the Greater RAD – Steph Monson Dahl
  • RADTIP/the Riverway

4:45 PM NEW BUSINESS

  • Greenways Northbound – Lucy Crown & Jason Young, Woodfin Town Manager
  • French Broad River Academy

5:00 PM PUBLIC COMMENT

ANNOUNCEMENTS
Property & Development Activity: Woodfin

5:30 PM FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS AND ADJOURNMENT

NEXT MEETING: THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 10TH AT 4PM, ASHEVILLE AREA CHAMBER
OF COMMERCE SECOND FLOOR BOARD ROOM

For more information on the Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission, please contact Steph Monson Dahl at (828) 232-4502.

New Belgium's Truck Routing Study: Project JO (updated)

In February 2012 (before New Belgium officially announced its selection of Asheville), a truck routing study was finalized and presented to the City of Asheville. It was performed by Mattern & Craig for New Belgium. However, in order to keep it confidential, it was referred to as "Project JO", named after New Belgium's sustainability director, Jenn Orgolini Vervier. Shortly after this study was completed, the City chose the worst of the 5 recommended truck routes and New Belgium announced Asheville as its location (April 2012).

Why a Truck Routing Study?  

New Belgium would not have chosen Asheville's river location without it.

A very important deciding factor in New Belgium choosing Asheville, was that Asheville needed to find an alternative truck route for New Belgium. At full capacity, they expect 75 trucks per day (150 trips total) to be going to and from the New Belgium brewery on the river to the Enka-Candler distribution plant (about 20 miles).

New Belgium knew that heavy truck traffic of that kind would not make for a nice neighbor to all those folks in the Craven Street area. We have been told that finding a suitable alternative truck route was necessary before New Belgium would commit to the river location in Asheville.

Truck Routing Study Results

of 5 Routes, Asheville chose the LEAST recommended & most expensive route - Why?
  • 5 truck routes were considered.  Of those, Riverside Drive was one of the routes considered.
  • The analysis shows that of all 5 truck routes considered, the Riverside Drive was the LAST RECOMMENDED choice because of of cost, construction required and Norfolk Southern:
  • "Railway bridge has inadequate clearances (horizontal and vertical) through bridge. Not a feasible, cost-effective solution.
  • Significant construction costs, right of way needs and coordination with Norfolk Southern"

Despite this being the last recommended choice, the City of Asheville went with this route because it gave New Belgium what it wanted (alternative truck route) and fit in with the City's desire to change Riverside Drive and dramatically increase development.


Update: New Belgium wrote a blog post about this very same thing and contends that they chose the Riverside Drive route due to neighborhoods in the Haywood Road area asking that they consider other routes.  Our contention is, that this is still the most expensive route and in addition, takes from private property owners for the purpose of another private property owner which is illegal. Furthermore, this is only one route out of other routes that New Belgium will need to use for vendors, their trucks, suppliers, etc. This is the route most likely for their biggest trucks. We are sure Wilma Dykeman would be rolling her grave at the thought of all these trucks on Riverside Drive.
Conflict:
The engineer who led this study, Gabe Quesinberry, PE of Mattern & Craig, left that company in October 2013 and is now, guess what.... the Design, Construction and Operations manager at New Belgium Brewing Asheville.  I guess they needed to hire the guy who did the study so that he would do what New Belgium and Asheville wanted.

CONCLUSION:
The City of Asheville, using it's powers of eminent domain, is taking private property (5 Riverside Drive and 36 other property owners) solely to benefit another private property owner, New Belgium. This is illegal.

Next Up: Traffic analysis report shows that putting a road through 5 Riverside Drive, as planned, has no positive impact on safety or decreasing traffic time. This road is solely being constructed and rerouted so that New Belgium has an alternative truck route.  More on this in the next edition.


Contact Your Senator to get Fairness in the way DOT takes land from private property owners

If you are a property owner in North Carolina, we urge you to contact your State Senator, and any of the other State Senators on the following list (scroll to the bottom of this post), and ask them to support two pending laws, both of which passed with overwhelming support in the House… but have been stymied in the Senate. This request is time sensitive – only a few weeks remain in the current legislative session. We have waited too long for fairness in the way DOT takes land from private citizens in this state. These bills would bring North Carolina into line with the majority of states in terms of protecting property rights. 
House Bill 127
The first bill was introduced by Representative Stam as House Bill 127, and passed easily by a vote of 102 to 8. That bill brought the following improvements for property owners whose real estate is being taken by the DOT or other North Carolina governmental entity:
  • Property owners will be paid interest on judgments from date of the property is taken until the date judgment is paid.
  • Fairer compensation for property owners by modifying the measure of damages.
  • Property owners will be reimbursed for their appraisal and engineering costs in condemnation proceedings.
  • The DOT will be required to provide relocation notices to condemnees at the same time as they are served with condemnation complaints, notices of deposit, and memorandums of action.
It is anticipated that this bill, which was tabled by the Senate Transportation Committee, will be reintroduced to the Senate this session. With enough public outcry, there’s a good chance the bill will be passed.
Senate Bill 74
The second bill, House Bill 3 introduced by Representative McGrady, passed the House 113 to 5. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Jackson as Senate Bill 74. Even though it passed the Senate on its first reading, it was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate, where it has languished.
This bill will provide protection for North Carolina citizens against predatory condemnation practices in which private parties can take land from homeowners, even if there is no public good.
Ten years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stunning opinion, Kelo v. City of New London, which permitted the City of New London to raze a neighborhood, taking homes from private citizens to give the land to another private citizen, a corporation intending to bring private enterprise to New London. The houses were razed, and now the land sits fallow and undeveloped. The project was never built. Across the country, a wave of outrage led most states (40) to adopt laws and constitutional amendments preventing private property from being taken from one private citizen and given to another (who the government might like better or thinks might bring in greater tax revenue). North Carolina was one of the few states which did nothing to protect its citizens from that decision. Consequently, private property continues to be taken from private parties and given to other private parties through the condemnation process.
Senate Bill 74 would bring North Carolina into the family of states that provide protection against this type of predatory condemnation for its citizens.
Call to Action
Adoption of these two bills would greatly improve the rights of North Carolina’s property owners, while having little fiscal impact on state government costs. Please ask your senator to help make that happen.
When contacting your State Senator, please let them know that you are their constitutent, and that you and your fellow citizens will be adversely impacted if these bills are not passed.
Key senators to contact regarding this legislation (even if they are not your Senator) are:
Sen. Jim Davis
Cherokee, Clay, Macon, Graham, Jackson, Swain, Haywood
(919) 733-5875
Jim.Davis@ncleg.net

Sen. Bob Rucho
Mecklenburg
919-733-5655

Sen. Jeff Tarte
Mecklenburg
(919) 715-3050
Jeff.Tarte@ncleg.net

Sen. Trudy Wade
Guilford
(919) 733-5856
Trudy.Wade@ncleg.net

Sen. John Alexander
Wake
(919) 733-5850
John.Alexander@ncleg.net

Sen. Chad Barefoot
Wade, Franklin
(919) 715-3036
Chad.Barefoot@ncleg.net

Sen. Tamara Barringer
Wake
(919) 733-5653
Tamara.Barringer@ncleg.net

Sen. Dan Soucek
Caldwell, Ashe, Watauga, Avery, Alleghany
(919) 733-5742
Dan.Soucek@ncleg.net

Sen. Shirley Randleman
Wilkes, Surry, Stokes
(919) 733-5743
Shirley.Randleman@ncleg.net

Sen. David Curtis
Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln
(919) 715-3038
David.Curtis@ncleg.net

Sen. Andrew Brock
Davie, Rowan, Iredell
(919) 715-0690
Andrew.Brock@ncleg.net

Sen. Ronald Rabin
Lee, Harnett, Johnston
(919) 733-5748
Ron.Rabin@ncleg.net

Sen. Brent Jackson
Duplin, Sampson, Johnston
(919) 733-5705
Brent.Jackson@ncleg.net

Sen. Buck Newton
Wilson, Nash, Johnston
(919) 715-3030
Buck.Newton@ncleg.net

Sen. Michael Lee
New Hanover
(919) 715-2525
Michael.Lee@ncleg.net

Sen. Norm Sanderson
Pamlico, Craven, Carteret
(919) 733-5706
Norman.Sanderson@ncleg.net

Sen. Bill Cook
Beaufort, Hyde, Dare, Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Gates
(919) 715-8293
Bill.Cook@ncleg.net

The New Belgium Effect: Becoming Little Fort Collins

New Belgium didn't just bring its beer to Asheville, but it also brought its connections and people which is really boosting our community.  In fact, you might say we're becoming little Fort Collins.

When did it start? 2008:

New Belgium's owner, Kim Jordan, recently stated that they began exploring Asheville back in 2008.
"Jordan said New Belgium started exploring an Asheville location in 2008." (Click for Source)
Asheville on Bikes Benefits:
In 2010, New Belgium made its presence known in Asheville when it launched its first annual Clips of Faith Beer and Film Tour, the proceeds of which get donated to a local nonprofit.  Because of New Belgium's support of cycling, they chose Asheville on Bikes who received $2,376 in 2010. No information for how much they've received since then but they now co-sponsor the event with New Belgium who has contributed to them each year since.

Media Benefits
But, we've also benefited from the Fort Collins connection in our media.  In early 2014, we welcomed Josh Awtry, Editor in Chief of our Asheville Citizen-Times.  Prior to this stint, he was the Executive Editor of the Fort Collins paper, The Coloradoan, where he had been since December 2011. So, he was used to writing about New Belgium way before he got here. That was one subject he didn't need to familiarize himself with.
“My family and I have a deep love for Fort Collins, and leaving this community was a tough call that involved a large share of sleepless nights and long conversations,” Awtry said. “As those who live here know, this is a pretty special place, and I’ve enjoyed every minute, every community event, every revolution of my bike tire.” (Click for Source)
Not only that, but Mr. Awtry even dedicated two full-time beer reporters! (Click for Source). See comment below for update from Mr. Awtry who claims this did not end up happening.

Local Businesses and Leaders Benefit
The New Belgium effect has also been positive for our local leaders, actually helping to save Brownie Newman's company, FLS Energy, a solar power company, where he is Vice President of Development.  In 2013 FLS Energy was suffering and having to lay off employees.
"FLS's explosive growth came with debt, and 2013 had a rocky start with slowing revenues, Freudenberger said. After growing to around 65 employees, the company has scaled back with attrition and layoffs." (Click for Source)
However, in early 2014, they received a $30 Million investment from four private investment firms, one of which is Vision Ridge Partners based in Boulder CO (1 hr from Fort Collins).  (Click for Source)

New Belgium and Vision Ridge have shared interests in renewable energies and often donate the same exact amounts to PACs in Colorado, serve on the same committees and participate in the same conferences.  Kim Jordan, the New Belgium CEO and Vision Ridge even participated in the same conference last year.  Perhaps New Belgium's confidence in Asheville and FLS Energy (since they conduct all of their Leadership Roundtable meetings in the FLS Energy Board Room) helped other Colorado investment companies see the future in Asheville.  Now that Brownie Newman is a Buncombe County Commissioner and will be dolling out over $7 million in funding to New Beligum over the next year, we hope they appreciate the use of his board room even more. In addition, Brownie is a member of the Asheville Riverfront Redevelopment Commission which also controls the plans impacting New Belgium.

Heck, even Brownie's Alma Mater, Warren Wilson College, had the privilege of having Kim Jordan be their 2015 commencement speaker.  (Click to read). The love is definitely going around.

In fact, FLS Energy was at many of the preliminary discussion meetings with New Belgium when they were discussing Asheville as their new site according to this Citizen-Times article (however, no mention was made whether or not it was Brownie at these dinners or not):

Alternative energy is important to New Belgium, which already boasts Colorado’s largest photovoltaic array and uses wind energy to power and cool the servers for its data center.
FLS Energy, of course, came into the long conversations city supporters had with the New Belgium search team. The homegrown solar company has been named the 46th fastest-growing firm in the nation.
In fact, most of the innovative business leaders around town had a chance to meet and talk with the Fort Collins crews during their many meals at The Market Place and at the Inn at Biltmore or their evenings sipping local brews at the Thirsty Monk or the Lexington Avenue Brewery
We'll keep reporting as more information comes in! Thank you all for sharing!

Welcome to Little Fort Collins Asheville!
Update: we need to retitle our article, the "Fort Collins East of the Mississippi" -this is how New Belgium viewed us when they were exploring Asheville:

Asheville, NC – 163 Craven StreetStrengths• The “Fort Collins east of the Mississippi” with year around activities and tourist destinations• Culture consistency with site being near the arts district for a walk and bike workforce• Right to work state• Moderate tax with low utility costs• Population growth area Property DescriptionWeaknesses • Approximately 19 acres across 3 separate• No direct flight to Denver parcel owners – French Broad River• Smallest market under consideration Group (6 acres), McLamb (1.5 acres) and• Need to assemble and purchase land Main Auto Parts (10.35 acres) • Urban place zoning to be rezoned to 13 commercial industrial" 

http://www.slideshare.net/.../the-anatomy-of-competition...





$123 MILLION and Counting: The True Cost of the RADTIP (updated)

Numbers are easy to throw around and they change often. When it comes to government projects and construction, those numbers never go down.  We've been keeping track.  At this time, the true cost of the 2.2 Miles in the River Arts District project known as RADTIP is up to $123 MILLION.  Here's the breakdown:

$74 Million for NCDOT Construction Costs
North Carolina taxpayers will be paying almost $74 Million in estimated NC Dot Construction Costs:

Update: We have been told that this $74 million is for the road work from Amboy Road to the Interstate on Riverside Drive. But from the description in this document, it seems to state it's for Riverside Drive, north for 2.2 miles which is the area we are concerned with. In addition, this document references the same DOT project number as the RADTIP - U-5019. We are providing this information as it comes to us and clarifying details. 
$26 Million in Asheville taxpayer funds (from General fund, enterprise fund, stormwater fund, etc.) plus $23.8 million from other funds and grants to go toward: sidewalks, transit shelter, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, renovation of 14 Riverside Drive (the brownfield building beside 12 Bones).   (Click for source)

TOTAL: $123 Million and counting....

New costs not figured in the above: an ADDITIONAL $10 more million!
$3 Million new Craven St BridgeThe City is now also planning a new bridge to connect New Belgium to the River Arts District at an estimated cost of $3,000,000 Million. There is a current bridge but it's not suitable for truck traffic. That one will be converted to a pedestrian bridge once the new bridge is up.
$7 Million for Craven St improvements - was originally estimated at $2 Million but the City had to increase it another $5 Million last year. (Click for Source)


Artists in South End Oppose Form Based Code

The City's form based code $100,000 consultants from Texas will be here July 25 - 29 to begin drafting the new zoning to replace the current River District zoning. While here, they will have "open house" meetings where you can go and participate.  

What they don't say is this: FORM BASED CODE IS A DONE DEAL. 

There was no debate or discussion with the community in a public meeting to even discuss the merits of replacing the current zoning except for Stephanie Dahl's proclamation that they listened to "citizen's complaints" which we would like to see a record of. There was no discussion about whether the current zoning could be amended.  FORM BASED CODE IS A DONE DEAL UNLESS the artists and property owners rally together to fight this change. 

If you want to sit around and think the City is actually going to care about whether your rents go up, think again. They don't. In fact, they need rents to go up because then that means the land values have gone up, other developers have come in and they receive increased property taxes. The City is spending at least $25 million of taxpayer funds (equal to 4 years of capital improvement budget). They must increase the taxbase in order to pay for this extravagant gamble.

Here is a similar story of artists in an industrial area in Burlington Vermont. These artists fought the Form Based Code and here's why:

Sound familiar?
"Darshana Bolt pays $115 a month for the art studio in Burlington's South End where she draws and paints.
The rent buys a small corner of a big room shared by eight artists and a band that practices next to the sagging couch.....
Artists, tech, craft breweries - sounds just like Asheville
As major employers such as Dealer.com grow their presence in the Pine Street corridor and start-ups such as social media site Ello move in, the neighborhood appears to be shifting further from its blue-collar roots. Tech workers and professionals drive in every day, and so do people who want to take a cooking class, buy a smoothie or craft beer, do yoga and browse vintage shops. Now there's speculation that expensive condos will come next."
It's a done deal
The city planning process seems almost to assume that upzoning for housing in the neighborhood will take place, said Amey Radcliffe, an artist and South End business owner who has rented an office at the Howard Space building since 1997.
"They talk about it like it's a done deal."
What's wrong with current zoning?
She and other artists say the current zoning has helped keep studio rents low and fostered creative endeavors that might not be compatible with condos upstairs — bands practicing, wood workers running saws, industrial artists pounding hammers, trucks coming and going to pick up furniture and sheet metal.
Radcliffe wants the South End to be spared a trend that has occurred in other cities. "Can we not be the next SoHo and all these places that used to be cool and now they're just high rent districts?" Radcliffe asked, referring to an arts district in New York City.
Get organized
"If they change the zoning, the first thing developers would do is put in condos," he said.
If the value of the land goes up, artists who work in the area will leave, Norris-Brown said. He's helped to organize artists to stay involved in the planning process and work for strategies that would preserve affordable studio space.
Don't wait on Texas
"We're not waiting for the consultant from Boston to tell us what to do," Norris-Brown said.
Let's use housing as an excuse...
Housing — both affordability and availability, renting and owning — is a real issue for Dealer employees that are already living in Vermont or relocating from elsewhere, according to Von Puschendorf.
Smart growth land-use principles hold that building housing close to employers, schools, recreation and stores is good for the environment because it reduces the need for cars and potentially reduces the demand for housing sprawl that eats up rural land.