Asheville City Attorneys Office faces scrutiny and criticism

"Asheville’s City Attorney has consistently taken stances against basic government transparency. It’s time for Council, and the people, to demand better of a major public servant" 
AshevilleBlade.com

and more...

"In Currin’s case, she answers directly to Council, people we elect not just to work with city staff but also to monitor, question and, yes, overrule and censure them when it’s merited. Checks and balances, after all, only work if there are leaders willing to check and balance. The buck stops with them, and any local elected official anywhere should always remember that.
The city of Asheville is not simply another corporate client, it has power and funds on the condition that it uses them on behalf of the city’s populace and that obligation extends to everyone that works for it. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. Right now the people of Asheville are poorly served by one of their major public servants’ repeated dismissal of basic open government. It’s time for that to change."


Couldn't have said it better.

Let us remind you of the conflicts of interest at the City Attorney's Office from our previous article, New Belgium & City of Asheville: Conflicts of Interest Do Not Apply

Tree Report of River Arts District, RADTIP U-5019 Project

Here is a tree report of one section of the River Arts District RADTIP project area:

(Click here to download report)

To whom it may concern:

My name is Royce Clay, owner of Royce’s Tree Service in Asheville, NC. I am a Certified Arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), and have been for about ten years. Between 2004­2012 I was the arborist crew leader at the Biltmore Estate, where I learned from some of the best mentors in the industry.

On February 23, 2016, I was hired by Mari and Chris Peterson to survey the riverbank trees on the property they own behind 12 Bones restaurant, and those on the riverbank at the Jean Webb park.

This report details the tree species composition and approximate age on the land at 5 Riverside Drive, near 12 Bones restaurant, stretching from the “Gennett Lumber” billboard seen along Riverside Drive to the Craven Street Bridge. Here is a short video showing some of the trees:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbriWjChnos&feature=em­upload_owner

I spent about an hour walking the riverbank and tallying the diameter inches of each tree species I found. Below is a table showing my findings:

Scientific tree name Common tree name Total diameter inches

Scientific tree name Common tree name Total diameter inches

(approximate)


To understand a little more about the table above, per­tree diameter inches are calculated at “breast height”, or DBH. To put these numbers more into perspective, a 24” dbh tree would be considered large by most. A 24” tree would be difficult to hug ­your fingers wouldn’t touch. In short, there are a lot of trees, and a lot of diameter inches of trees, along this property. Dead trees were included in the above table because they often provide perches for birds of prey, and other wildlife habitat benefits.

Figure 1. Even dead trees provide necessary riverside habitat.

Figure 2. A sycamore tree showing awesome root structure and streamside retention

Why are all of these trees important to the river, and thus, Asheville itself?

Trees along rivers make up riparian buffer zones. From Wikipedia: A riparian buffer​is a vegetated area (a "buffer​strip") near a stream, usually forested, which helps shade and partially protect a stream from the impact of adjacent land uses. It plays a key role in increasing water quality in associated streams, rivers, and lakes, thus providing environmental benefits.

Riparian buffer areas slow the effects of erosion. They keep the inevitable erosion of streambanks to a minimum. These buffer areas also provide shade for the river, providing fish and wildlife habitat. These areas also slow the runoff from major precipitation events, decreasing the chance for flooding downstream. The benefits of these areas are numerous and well­ known. Trees in these areas should not be cut unless absolutely necessary.

Removing the trees from riparian areas can have devastating effects on the land from which they were removed, as well as downstream. Banks erode, sediment and soil go downstream, water temperatures rise, wildlife suffers. The list of negative effects is long and difficult to remediate. Replanting is a nice way to get a riverbank to stop eroding, but a better, more efficient and cost­effective way is to not cut the trees down in the first place. Keep those trees that anchor the river bank free from compaction and construction damage as well. In other words, treat the trees as the priceless (and price­less) structural workhorses they are. Stands like these, with trees from 50­ - 100 years old, take exactly that long to replace.

(Click here to download report)

If you are concerned about the potential of important trees being cut down and the environmental impact of this project, contact your Asheville City Council (emails listed below):

esthermanheimer@avlcouncil.com
gwenwisler@avlcouncil.com
cecil@braveulysses.com
brianhaynes@avlcouncil.com
juliemayfield@avlcouncil.com
gordonsmith@avlcouncil.com
keithyoung@avlcouncil.com

AARRC Expands; Form Based Code to Expand; No Property Tax Increases

Last week we met with the City of Asheville staff to ask questions about the RADTIP project. We asked questions our local media, the Citizen-Times fails to ask and we found out the following:

1) The commission in charge of the River Arts District development plan (the massive $60 million RADTIP construction project) wishes to expand it's scope. They feel their work with the River Arts District is coming to a close as the construction project is almost underway.  They told us they wish to start looking at development areas along the rest of the Swannanoa River Road (i.e., Sweeten Creek area, Biltmore Village area) and the French Broad River areas.  What does that mean? We don't know but it does mean more control and regulations and probably taxes.

2) We asked about the Form Based Code being presented in the River Arts District and asked if they are going to present the same thing in other parts of the City.  They confirmed that they do wish to expand form based code in other areas. Look out. Form based code is probably coming to downtown and South Asheville.

3) On a side note, they did confirm that they do not plan on increasing property taxes for this year's budget but that they do plan on increasing program fees and parking fees and other fees.