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.


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.


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.


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





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


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


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


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


Property & Development Activity: Woodfin



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.
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.

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

Sen. Bob Rucho

Sen. Jeff Tarte
(919) 715-3050

Sen. Trudy Wade
(919) 733-5856

Sen. John Alexander
(919) 733-5850

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

Sen. Tamara Barringer
(919) 733-5653

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

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

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

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

Sen. Ronald Rabin
Lee, Harnett, Johnston
(919) 733-5748

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

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

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

Sen. Norm Sanderson
Pamlico, Craven, Carteret
(919) 733-5706

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