Follow the Money Trail Part 2: Selling yourself to New Belgium

Big Beer means Big Money
Total incentives for New Belgium  
is approximately $24 - $35 Million (and counting)

New Belgium estimates that they will invest $175 million in their facility on French Broad  River. (Click here to Read the New Belgium Contract) Keep in mind that a large portion of this is just for the building of the facilities itself which sits on roughly 20 acres.

In exchange for the investment, the City gets the following from New Belgium:

New Belgium only pays $375,000 per year in taxes for 7 years (2015 - 2021)
New Belgium pays $300,000 per year in grant money for 7 years (2015 - 2021)

We roughly estimate New Belgium should be paying $2.26 million per year which means New Belgium is receiving 1.6 million incentive, a total of approximately $11.2 million over 7 years.

In addition, the City will:
"complete any and all survey work necessary to obtain easements from New Belgium or any other property owners"
Craven Street road improvements to include: storm water mitigation, multimodal roadway improvements on Craven Street from  Haywood to Craven Street Bridge (bike paths, stormwater infrastructure, sidewalk and road widening.
Replace existing water lines on Hazel Mill Road (from 4" to 8")
City will construct a greenway provided to the City by New Belgium
Road improvements at the intersection of I-240 and Haywood, the Five Points Intersection known as Roberts Street, Clingman Avenue, Depot Street and Lyman Street intersections
City will work with County to construct low level parking lot to the North of New Belgium site (county land)
 Total estimated budget for these (April 2012 New Belgium Agreement) is: $2,335,730

According to the proposed City of Asheville 2015 Budget, the City is way off on their budget for New Belgium. The City (and your taxdollars) will be spending at least $24 Million to benefit New Belgium. 
$34,317,889 RADTIP
$1,820,448  French Broad West Greenway
$2,379,152  Clingman Forest Greenway
1,399,288    Five Points Roundabout
150,000       Craven Street Kiosk
$40,066,777 TOTAL
-16,000,000 Grant Sources
$24,066,777 TOTAL TO BE FUNDED BY CITY TAXPAYERS
Even if you deduct the Greenways, you are still left with $24 million of taxpayer dollars in order to get New Belgium here.

And, incentives and taxpayer dollars keep rising.  The AARRC is now proposing a $3 million bridge for New Belgium because the current Craven Street bridge is not sufficient for their trucks.  If that bridge were necessary on private property, the property owners would be paying for that Bridge.

We would like to see an accounting of monies spent so far on behalf of New Belgium as well as a breakout of monies budgeted.

Documents Referenced:
Click here to Read the New Belgium Contract

Click here to Read Follow the Money Trail Part 1: 30% of Capital Improvement Budget for 2.2 Miles in River Arts District?

Follow the Money Trail Part 1: 30% of Capital Improvement Budget for 2.2 Miles in River Arts District?

This is follow the Money Trail Part 1
Click here to read Follow the Money Trail Part 2: Selling Yourself to New Belgium

The City of Asheville's proposed budget for fiscal year 2015-2016 is ready.  It will be presented at City Council on June 9th and they hope, approved by June 23rd, giving taxpayers less than a month to review and ask questions. We decided to do our own budget analysis.

As a former administrator, I know that budgets are a moving target but they do tell a story especially when you a) review them over a period of time and b) compare the proposed budgets to actual

Here's our highlights as it relates to the River Arts District RADTIP project (the 2.2 miles in River Arts District on French Broad River) which can be found in the Capital Improvements Program of the City Budget, followed by more details and analysis:

RADTIP is 31% of Capital Improvement Program
The RADTIP project (the 2.2 mile stretch in the River Arts District) represents 31% of the entire Capital Improvement Budget. LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN - 31%.  
RADTIP is the largest of all City capital improvement projects 
It is the largest project and even if with some portion of that being funded, the RADTIP still represents an entire year's worth of the CIP budget.  
RADTIP shows up in 2012-2013 budget 
In February 2012, Gary Jackson stated that the construction funds needed for the RADTIP section of the RiverWay could cost $50 million dollars, whereas all of the City’s capital improvement fund availability for the next 5 years is about $40 million dollars. Why are we dedicating so much to such a small area?
RADTIP did not show up in the CIP budget plan until the proposed budget for 2012-2013 shortly after New Belgium announces Asheville as its east coast site.  Something to be noted especially when people say this has been in the works for years.  Apparently, it wasn't important enough to fund in years past.

RADTIP budget grows over $10 Million from last year 
The RADTIP budget was 21.9 Million in the 2014-2015 proposed budget. It is now $34.3 Million in this year's proposed budget.  
Here's a comparison of proposed spending by budget fiscal year



Capital Improvement Program
2014 to 2019
Capital Improvement Program
2015 - 2020
1,557,577 (FY 2015)

$1,046,836 (FY 2015)

1,206,344 (2016)

$8,011,053 (2016)

3,660,307 (2017)

$7,000,000 (2018)

5,840,915 (2018)

$6,102,000 (2017)

9,634,857 (2019)

$7,299,000 (2019)


$4,859,000 (2020)


$16 Million of the total is coming from funding sources but we know a) those funds can change, b) budgets change as plans change and c) we already know that they want an additional $3 million new Craven Street bridge.  This budget will not shrink but will probably get bigger.

Why such huge spending in a small area? New Belgium, of course

The Asheville Blade wrote about the proposed budget of 2014:

About $90 million of that is city funds, including both loans and cash, especially the RADTIP overhaul in the River District.
Of course, New Belgium brewing is a big part of this, as improving infrastructure near the future brewery was a major part of the deal to bring Big Beer here in the first place.
Part of the deal for getting New Belgium were capital improvements such as the road work done on Craven Street. More on that in Part 2 of this series.

Capital Improvement Program  Budgets increases over 100% over last 5 years 

In 2011, the Capital Improvements budget for the next 5 years was only $59 Million.  In the previous 5 years, that represented a 45% increase.

5 years later and the CIP budget is now $142 Million.  It has more than doubled over the last 5 years.


CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM -what is it and why should I care?

Taxpayers should care because taxpayers are paying for it.  

(pg 69 of Proposed Budget) In 2013, the City increased property taxes by 3% specifically to pay for these Capital Improvement projects.  In order to continue funding these, they will have to continue increasing tax rates.  Read this on Municipal Service Districts in which the City can now finance these projects without taxpayer vote.

Taxpayers should care about the CIP because these are projects that don't always have to be funded and where there is discretion in how much you pay and when and how you finance them. Unlike salaries, benefits, insurance, etc. these are moving targets and subject to change. However, CIP's generally grow unless there is a recession or other slow down in revenue growth in which case the City must then cut back.

The Capital Improvement Program in short, is a basic plan to reinvest in your assets by maintaining and improving upon them.

Example: If you own a home or business, a capital improvement would be similar to having a new roof installed or buying new equipment like HVAC which can be very expensive. These are items that you know are generally going to require more than your annual budget and some of these will be depreciated over time on your taxes.  Business owners, like homeowners, often have to finance capital improvement projects because they are so expensive.

Capital improvement projects are NOT always required but generally are needed.  It improves value and makes the most of your assets but one should not break the bank for these projects.  This is a delicate balancing act.

In the care of a municipality, taxpayers should watch these items because this is simply a projection of cash but does NOT include the cost to finance.  In other words, the City will go into debt in some form or fashion to cover what is not funded through grants.

SUMMARY

We will continue to provide an analysis of the City's budget and will review other items in detail but we leave you with this:

City has increased taxes, year after year
City has increased fees on all services, year after year
City has cut back on services, year after year
Shouldn't expenses be cut back too? Show us those, please

Documents Referenced (click to access)
City of Asheville Proposed 2015-2016 Budget
City of Asheville Approved 2014-2015 Budget
2011 to 2015 Capital Improvement Budget Section

Click here to read Follow the Money Trail Part 2: Selling Yourself to New Belgium


Full List of Articles by Topic

Since March we have published more than 40 articles.  Thought it would be helpful for readers to view a full list of articles by topic:

Click to view our Articles by Topic


Comments on" If the creek don’t rise: Flooding, money and politics in the River Arts District"

The Mountain Xpress recently published a very informative article, "If the creek don't rise: Flooding, money and politics in the River Arts District."  (Click here for article).  This article was very detailed and unlike some of the other fluff stuff written by other media, this one actually asked very good questions that go to the heart of the matter.

There were a few assertions made that we would like to comment on:

No Hotel?

Stephanie Monson reports that they are NOT planning on pursuing a riverfront hotel, "“It was one of four scenarios, and it’s not the scenario the city is pursuing. The city is not pursuing a certificate to get the restrictions removed, as has been reported.”

FEMA Deed Restrictions?

She further states they are not planning on lifting the deed restrictions since they are not planning on a hotel scenario.

Well, we question these statements for two main reasons:

1) The Riverside Drive Redevelopment Plan that includes the hotel was adopted in August 2014, less than a year ago.  The AARRC has made no amendment to it or refuted any portion of the plan.

2) According to every action the AARRC has so far taken, they seem to be following through on every aspect of that Plan. Remember: actions speak louder than words.  Phase 2 of the Plan was the implementation of Form BAsed Code. The City has just hired Code Studio to do that.  Phase 3 of the Plan... a hotel.  We see that coming in about 2 to 3 years if they continue with their plans.

At this point, the AARRC says they are not pursuing these two major changes. We will continue to watch this unfold and keep them accountable to those statements.

Flood Insurance
Jerry Sternberg, a former owner of property in the RAD, says flood insurance covers everything, "flood insurance] is provided by FEMA and is manageable. Any new building in the floodway has to be built above the 100-year flood level, and utilities must be elevated to meet insurance requirements. If you build to their specifications, the insurance is not prohibitive.”

First of all, building to their specifications is extremely expensive and does NOT mitigate or reduce damages.  Damages will be incurred. It's a matter of who pays for the rebuilding.  FEMA also does NOT pay for lost wages or lost business income.

Second, FEMA is well known for paying far less than the actual damages.  Remember, the 60 Minutes expose on FEMA which ran March 1, 2015?  Here's the link to that video. When we experienced the flood of 2004, FEMA offered less than 1% of damages.


Other Asheville Rivergate Related Flood Articles:






River Arts District Form Based Code Rollout Schedule

The River Arts District Form Based Code kickoff meeting and roll out schedule is as follows:


SAVE THE DATE! KICK OFF MEETING

DATE:  Wednesday, June 17, 2015
TIME:  6pm
WHERE: Dr. Wesley Grant Center, 285 Livingston Street, Asheville, NC, 28801

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE FOR ROLL OUT

July 25 = Public Workshop

July 25 - 30 = Charrette Week

July 26 – Tuesday, July 28 = Open Studio and Stakeholder Interviews Sunday.

July 27 = Open House at Studio

July 27 & 28 = Lunch and Learn Sessions

July 29, evening = Final Presentation Wednesday

September, 2015 = Report to Community

November, 2015 = First Draft

November 2015 – January 2016 = Code Revisions

January – February 2016 = Second Draft




Related Articles:

Report from the May 14, 2015 AARRC Meeting:  here are the highlights from the May meeting of the AARRC.

HIGHLIGHTS


PROPERTY ACQUISITION TIMELINE 
RADTIP (River Arts District Transportation Project)

  • Right of Way acquisition letters have gone out to owners as of two weeks ago. 
  • They reported a list of approximately 36 property owners potentially impacted.  
  • We received one of those letters and spoke briefly to the person who sent us this letter.  The letter came from Nikki Reid but we were instructed to contact Eileen McKinnon.  According to Eileen, she has never done this kind of work and in fact, was a grant writer before this.  So, the person they put in charge of taking people's property was a grant writer and has no experience in this?

Public Meeting:  According to this meeting, acquisitions will not take place until July 2016 but a public meeting will be held this July.  We need to confirm these details as it sounds like dates may be off but that's what was reported.

FORM BASED CODE UPDATE

Code Studio has started and they (Code Studio) will be meeting with focus groups and stakeholders designated by the City.  They are planning a charrette (community meeting) for sometime the last week of July.  The AARRC has formed a Form Based Code Advisory Committee and they will be the main point group for this initiative.

NEW BELGIUM'S $3 MILLION BRIDGE

It appears that New Belgium would like multiple transportation routes because of the heavy truck traffic they are expecting.  The Enka brewing site has been completed.  They expect at least 75 trucks a day (that's 150 trips/day) plus they expect 150,000 annual visitors/tourists.  In order to accommodate that they want a bridge and the current Craven Street bridge is not sufficient for trucks. (On a side note - it apparently isn't sufficient for cyclists or pedestrians either.)

They estimate the bridge to cost about $3 million but they only have enough funds to get the drawings ready for the bridge so that if funds appears, it is "shovel ready."  They expect to spend $500,000 to get drawings made for the bridge.  Let's connect the dots here - this new bridge was not included in the $50 Million RAD project estimates.  Already, expenses are increasing.  The $14 million road improvement on Riverside Drive is also being done to accommodate truck traffic... yes, you guessed it, for New Belgium.

It is funny to us how one project almost always seems to lead to another expensive project.  Our other question is this: Why are we spending taxpayer dollars for a bridge for New Belgium?  The "incentives" promised to New Belgium are adding up and increasing by the month.  And, we know from prior history with City projects, this bridge will end up costing way more than $3 million.

WHITEWATER PARK

A setback for the Whitewater Park folks.  Looks like they will be delayed by at least 2 years in their plans because of all the other hoops they have to go through to make this happen.

AARRC Minutes April 9, 2015

To keep you better informed, we will start posting the minutes of each meeting and the agenda of upcoming meetings.

Minutes of the Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Meeting
April 9, 2015

Board Members in Attendance: Chair Pattiy Torno, Vice Chair Carleton Collins, Stephanie Brown, Esther Cartwright, Councilman Jan Davis, Joe Ferikes, Karl Koon, George Morosani, Commissioner Brownie Newman, Pam Turner, Cindy Vinisch Weeks

Board Members Absent: Ricky Silver, Peter Sprague, Mayor Jerry Vehaun

Staff in Attendance: Stephanie Monson Dahl, Marsha Stickford, Sasha Vrtunski, Gary Jackson

Guests: Shane Benedict, Chuck Cloninger, Pat Dennehy, Julia Fosson, Robert Foster, Darren Green, Suzanne Hackett, Marc Hunt, David King, Roger McCredie, Mari Peterson, Matt Raker, Derek Turno, Ben VanCamp

A quorum was established and Chair Torno called the commission to order at 4:00 p.m.

1. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Mr. Davis made a motion to approve the minutes from the March meeting, Vice Chair Collins seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

2. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
a. Networking Committee

The Committee did not meet.

b. Planning and Design Review Subcommittee Update

The Subcommittee did not officially meet due to scheduling conflicts.

c. Staff Updates

There was a meeting Monday March 23rd to discuss the Greenway Feasibility Study for Bent Creek Corridor. NCDOT. Chair Torno noted that the form asked individuals to map their own preferences for the greenway route and that the meeting was very well attended.

Staff has chosen Code Studio for the RAD Form-Based Code process. Authorization for the project contract will be on City Council’s Consent Agenda for April 14th. There will be a kickoff meeting mid-June—Code Studio will be in town and Staff will hold stakeholder meetings. There will be a charette in the River Arts District in late July

d. Retreat Date Confirmation – June 26th

Chair Torno noted that the 26th of June is the finalized retreat date. Knoxville Development staff will be speaking to the Commission, and University of Tennessee staff will also host the AARRC.

3. NEW BUSINESS

a. New Biltmore Village Association
Mr. Foster, the president of the Historic Biltmore Village Partnership was in attendance. He stated that they are at approximately 95% membership with all the merchants in the Biltmore Village area. Mr. Foster spoke about focus areas for the Partnership and cooperation with the City of Asheville to identify & address their concerns. 

b. Whitewater Park Overview and Discussion 
Mr. VanCamp noted that the Wilma Dykeman Plan calls for a Whitewater Park near the confluence of the Swannanoa and French Broad Rivers. Scott Shipley is the consultant for the project, and has many years of experience designing whitewater courses of various sizes. Mr. Shipley looked at three sites: Jean Webb Park, Bowen Bridge and Pearson Bridge and recommended the site under the Bowen Bridge. The total project cost is $1.8 million, of which $1.4 million is build out and $400,000 is design. He stated the goal is for the project to be mainly privately funded, and not to be funded by the City. Before the question and answer session, Chair Torno noted that the Commission’s task was to recommend questions brought forward from their constituencies. She stated that there has been negative feedback from the artists in the River Arts District, noting that the Wilma Dykeman plan separately delineated the River Arts District and the French Broad Recreation area, and that there does not seem to be a lot of crossover between these two customer bases. She also shared concerns from RADBA around traffic congestion, parking & public safety. She also noted that there is not a lot of re-developable land near the Bowen Bridge site, but that there is much more re-developable industrial land closer to the Pearson Bridge site. Mr. Newman asked about the timeline for funding and agreed that traffic & public safety concerns must be addressed. Mr. VanCamp stated that they are in a holding pattern until after the project is discussed at City Council. Questions from AARRC commissioners about liability, location, traffic congestion, public safety, funding, timing, maintenance, etc have been referred to city staff to be addressed in their report to City Council. c. Vice Chair’s Purpose Statement and Discussion Mr. Collins gave an overview of the AARRC’s history, and the group discussed the Commission’s establishing ordinance. Mr. Collins asked the Commissioners to consider the Commission’s name, appointing members, and defining the mission for the AARRC for the next 5 years and any changes which might be considered within these areas. 

4. PUBLIC COMMENT Ms. Peterson stated she does not believe the AARRC did enough outreach to speak to property owners who could be impacted by the RADTIP process. She asked in the event that the DOT’s appraiser decides that the property on which 12 Bones is located is an uneconomic remnant, whether the City has a plan for the property. Ms. Peterson also asked to see a flood impact study which had been discussed a few years ago. She asked whether Riverside Studios would be relocated. She asked whether the owners of private properties which will be impacted by the greenway have been contacted to inform them of the process. 

5. ANNOUNCEMENTS CURVE 
Twilight Party: Saturday, April 11th Azalea Project Grand Opening: Saturday, April 18th 1 PM Greenway Partners Meeting: Wednesday, April 15th 4 PM 6. ADJOURN Chair Torno adjourned the meeting at 5:45p.m. without objection.

Open Letter to River Arts District Artists and Businesses

May 12, 2015

Attention All Artists and Businesses:

Our less than transparent City Council is moving full speed ahead in its plan to take over the River District. Due to greed and power and breaking their own laws, this council will do anything to shove this flawed project down the taxpayers throats. Together, we can organize and demand that the City Manager and his corrupt council resign, along with Pattiy Torno and the corrupt AARRC Board.

The AARRC should be replaced with artists and businesses in the River District. 

We, also, need to stop the re-zoning of our River at next months Council meeting. 

We need at least 100 people to attend this zoning meeting. Together, we can fight this corrupt and dishonest  City Manager and City Council.  A meeting notice will be sent out shortly.

If you want to be notified - join our email list by clicking here: http://eepurl.com/bg1EVj

OR

Join our Facebook page: ttps://www.facebook.com/ashevillerivergate

Fight the Corruption,

Chris Peterson

AARRC Meeting, Thursday, May 14 at 4:00pm

Join us at the monthly AARRC meeting. This Thursday at 4pm at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Board Room.  HOT ON THE AGENDA: FORM BASED CODE.  Read our article on what is Form Based Code and why Artists should oppose it.

AGENDA

4 PM CALL TO ORDER

4:05 PM Networking Committee – Peter Sprague

4:30 PM Planning and Design Review Committee – Carleton Collins

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

SUBCOMMITTEE UPDATES

  • Form-Based Code Outreach
  • Anchor Institution Outreach
  • New Businesses Outreach
  • New Belgium Update – Joe Ferikes
  • Form-Based Code Advisory Committee
  • Design Review Process Refinements


NEW BUSINESS

4:45 PM Design Review: Amboy Road Food Truck Park

5:25 PM PUBLIC COMMENT

FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS

ANNOUNCEMENTS


5:30 PM ADJOURNMENT

For more information on the Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission, please contact Steph

Monson Dahl at (828) 232-4502.

Part 1: A Commission's Rise to Power

This is Part 1 of a 2 part story:
Part 1: A Commissions Rise to Power
Part 2: A Commission Gone Rogue
Prologue
Like many of you, we've been busy running our business and our family.  As one other business owner in the RAD told me, you don't make business decisions like moving your entire business based on a community meeting and in addition, some property owners don't even live in Asheville.  That is very true. Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a situation that like weeds, has grown up around us and now, due to the sudden availability of funds, plans that have been in the works are actually about to be implemented.  We've taken a close look at everything. We've reviewed all the minutes of this commission and related documents and plans in order to understand it and what we found was quite disheartening. Again, while we are not against development, we are against building in a known flood zone and potentially repeating the history of 1916 and 2004.  

In the next couple of weeks we will continue with our articles concerning "Insider Trading" which we started a few weeks ago.  However, in order to understand that, one must understand the history of the "company" that controls the River Arts District, the place everyone suddenly wants to trade in.

Part 2: A Commission Gone Rogue

This is Part 2 of a 2 part story:
Click here to read Part 1: A Commissions Rise to Power
Part 2: A Commission Gone Rogue
Going Rogue

As we wrote in Part 1, A Commissions Rise to Power, the AARRC got its wings with the New Belgium announcement creating the sudden interest by the City, by developers, by tourism officials and of course, businesses.  As with many things, a little power goes a long way and in this case, it has led to a Commission that has gone rogue.  A commission that is so obsessed with development that it has left behind the interests of the artists and the concerns over flooding in hopes of building a city on the river.

Building Up
This AARRC announced in April that it has hired Code Studio for $100,000 to implement Form Based Code. Click to read "Form Based Code and Why River Arts District Artists Should Oppose It"

Once implemented, this Commission will be able to further dictate developments along the River. The 2014 Riverside Redevelopment Plan calls for a 4 story hotel ON the River, close to the Bowen Bridge.  It also calls for a 2 to 4 level visitors centers on the property adjacent to 12 Bones.  This is just the beginning. They hope to encourage another $200 million in private investment.

Under current zoning, the City can only develop 50,000 sq feet of it's city owned property.  Under Form based code, it will allow the city to develop up to 1 million square feet.


Why do we consider this going rogue?  


1) This AARRC commission has become quasi zoning committee but unlike the real Planning and Zoning Committee of the City that requires an application process and voting, this planning and zoning subcommittee requires none.   See Part 1 of this article.

It now controls all development along the French Broad River, Swannanoa River and the RAD and will be implementing zoning changes.  See Part 1 of this article.

2) This Committee did away with the 2005 plan and adopted a new plan in 2014 which is in direct contradiction to the Wilma Dykeman Plan which did not call for this form of dense building or putting a road directly on the river. See Part 1 of this article.

3)  Misuse of Federal FEMA Funds 
The City wishes to build upon properties which the City bought using FEMA funds specifically for the sole purpose of keeping it from built upon.

Back in 2007, with the 2004 flood still fresh in their memory, the City of Asheville used a grant from FEMA to purchase 3 lots in the River Arts District - 3 properties which were supposed to be cleaned up and left as open space. These properties were bought with city funds for the sole purpose of flood mitigation.

October 2007 - Mountain Xpress

"Armed with state and federal funds, Asheville and Buncombe County have been buying up property in the floodplain. A $300,000 flood-mitigation grant enabled the city to purchase three properties including the former Riverside CafĂ©. 

All of those structures will be razed and the parcels left as open space."  


This AARRC commission now seeks to do the exact opposite and seeks to get a certificate from FEMA allowing them to develop this same space.

Page 11, Riverside Drive Redevelopment Plan, August 2014

7. FEMA PARCELS/RIVERSIDE DRIVE TRACTS A-D
PIN #s 963888556400000; 963888642600000; 963888639200000; 963888656300000 
The City successfully obtained $380,000 of FEMA flood hazard mitigation funding to purchase these four parcels and demolish a building on the site in 2000. Use of the 2.11 acres of land is restricted by deed to open space and flood sensitive construction that supports park operations and/or riverfront recreation. 

Here is a screenshot from the Plan

Where are these properties?
Directly across from the New Belgium site, beside Craven Street. The Plan "presumes that the FEMA deed restrictions can be renegotiated, allowing for both a lodging facility and recreational use directly on the French Broad." pg. 14 of the Riverside Drive Redevelopment Plan.

Why did the City purchase these properties to preserve them from being developed? A little flood history to shed the light on that:

How Soon We Forget
If you were here in 2004 you remember 'the flood'. I was here and I remember it.  You could paddle in downtown Biltmore Village which seemed to suffer the most.  As a result of those floods a few businesses were washed away and never came back, costing the area $21.9 million (Source) and $200 million to the entire WNC area (source).

Flooding was a hot topic. No one wanted to repeat that.

Flood Mitigation and Damage Reduction
After 2004, the City seemed eager to mitigate flood damage.  It created a task force in 2006 and received funding from a flood mitigation grant in 2007 to purchase property along the French Broad River and vowed at that time to raze those structures and leave the parcels open, as mentioned above.

Limit development as recommended by the Asheville Flood Damage Reduction Task Force
The 2006 Asheville Flood Damage Reduction Task Force recommended to the City that current development activities were creating worse flood problems. They also recommended that all planning and regulation in the area be controlled as it didn't make sense to put expensive structures in areas we know flood:
"Start with the city’s existing River Redevelopment Plan and improve upon it. Re-examine the Plan to further limit the amount of allowable impervious surface.Make sure the plan is put in place soon. Current development activities are having a negative impact and the next storm could create even more problems.
Map the floodplain based on a build-out scenario and base all planning and regulation on that future floodplain, not on the current model that will soon be outdated. Plan for a 50 year flood, not just the 100 year event.
Follow a management strategy based on the full build-out scenario. It does not make sense to put expensive new structures in areas we know flood regularly."
Source: See page 6: FLOOD DAMAGE REDUCTION TASK FORCE FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONSOCTOBER 30, 2007
Click here to view the Flood Damage Reduction Task Force Slideshow presented to the Buncombe County Commissioners

"We don't have a lot of structures right on the river, as far as residences in the flood plain anymore," VeHaun said. "We bought some with FEMA funds, and we bought some with county funds. We're in a lot better shape in that regard than 20 years ago."Source: http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/09/06/hurricanes-frances-ivan-impact-lingers-years-later/15217637/

Instead, the City and this AARRC commission are doing and recommending the exact opposite. The City of Asheville and this AARRC are wasting taxpayer dollars by encouraging and pushing development to the River. It has been almost 10 years since that flood and the City has become apathetic to flood issues but it should not. Heck, as soon as New Belgium announced the attitude has changed dramatically... flooding? what flooding? Just build 10 feet high and everything is good. This is not a sufficient plan:

1.   Flooding to Increase 45%
The Mountain Xpress reported in 2013 that a recent FEMA Study showed that due to climate changes and rising sea levels, flood prone areas would increase by 45%. Source.

2.  It is not a matter of IF it will flood but when:
Over the past century, nine major floods have inundated Asheville, according to the N.C. Geological Survey. And at a Feb. 24 open house, hydrologists from the Renaissance Computing Institute said it’s not a question of if, but when the next one comes along. Meanwhile, future floods are expected to be even bigger, as development creates more impervious surfaces and climate change spawns more severe storms.
Source: Green Scene: A river runs through it, Mountain Xpress, March 29, 2011

“I have to believe [the new state] maps are going to show us that the 100-year floodplain has grown,” he predicts. “We’ve put a lot more people and property in that area that flooded. We are putting more people in danger, and that’s just a conscious decision we are making.”
In other words, even as we whittle down the number of at-risk structures, we are busy creating new ones elsewhere.
Meanwhile, people are continuing to build or rebuild in places that were under several feet of water for days a mere three years ago. “People have short memories,” he says. 
Source: Source: https://mountainx.com/news/community-news/101007flood/

3.  Saying you require building to be up 10 feet is not sufficient.  Environmental groups are suing FEMA for doing exactly that.  Review this article of someone who built on a 9 foot tall concrete foundation in a floodplain, only to have it filled with mud during a flood:
After a 1995 flood, they raised the house on a 9-foot-tall concrete foundation. Then a 2003 flood dumped enough mud in their basement to fill 60 wheelbarrows. "Goopy, gloppy, sticky stuff," she says. "It's horrible."
"So in courtrooms from Washington state to New Mexico, environmentalists have filed lawsuits challenging the flood insurance offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and related FEMA programs, which has helped Vail [who built on a 9 foot tall concrete foundation] and her neighbors rebuild in a place that  is fundamentally unsuited for it."
But they're up against strong opposition, including FEMA itself, as well as local governments and a building industry that want construction and the tax dollars that come with it."
Source:  January 2013, High Country News: https://www.hcn.org/issues/44.22/fighting-development-in-floodplains

So, what should happen?

The Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission should be modified to include:
  • flood damage mitigation, including not misusing FEMA funds
  • addressing safety concerns such as sidewalks
  • return to implementation of the Wilma Dykeman Plan