BUILDING IN A FLOOD PLAINAll City owned parcels and all property along the French Broad River are within the 100-year and 500-year flood plain. There were two major floods in the last 100 years which is why investors don't build there.
Clean Up Don't Build Up
Cleaning up a floodzone with greenways and parks is a fabulous plan. The River Arts District has a distinct character of its own - it's gritty, it's industrial and nothing is new down there - but people don't necessarily feel safe and getting around by foot or bike isn't easy. We're not against cleaning up the RAD. The original development plan (2005) did exactly this. It cleaned up the area and added parks, greenways and nice paths.
Developer's Dream: Ponzi Scheme
The new plan (2014) has become a developer's brochure and mushroomed into millions of dollars to be invested, encouraged and spent on a 2.2 mile acre tract.
According to the recent article in the Citizen-Times, there will be at least $250 Million invested in the RAD: the City of Asheville will be investing $26 Million of taxpayer dollars, an additional $25 million is coming from grants and $200 Million is expected from private investment. You don't need $250 Million to create a park or greenway. Encouraging massive development along the French Broad River is not prudent use of taxpayer dollars. This is a development ponzi scheme. Once it floods, the taxpayers and private investors will be left with damaged, expensive goods. Who will be paying for the long term debt and maintenance of these improvements?
Road along the French Broad River?
The AARRC went on a field trip to Greenville SC to view their river development and meet with officials in 2013. Obviously, they must have been blind. The Swamp Rabbit Trail is a 20 mile long greenway along the Reedy River that connects their schools, parks and downtown as well and extends from downtown Greenville to Travelers Rest. Sound familiar? Yes, but there is NO ROAD. It's all bike path and greenway. I've been there. It's beautiful. There are no hotels or built up visitors center sitting on the river side.
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PROPERTY OWNERS RIGHTS AND JUST COMPENSATIONSadly, when a municipality or state or Federal government starts making plans that affect your property, they are not required to notify you until it's too late. They don't directly seek your input. Instead they call for public community meetings held while you're working but that's not the egregious part of this.
North Carolina is the only state that does not require just compensation for property it takes. It leaves it to the local municipalities to do the right thing. Guess what? Asheville is doing the cheap thing. It is not right when taxpayers who have invested in your community are going to get shafted in the name of a bike path.
Who pays for the cost of lost lease income? Who pays for the cost of relocating a business? Who pays for that businesses's lost income during the relocation?
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POSSIBLE COMPLETE CONDEMNATION
As one person put it, you're creating a BBQ island. Roads will run all around the 12 Bones property. Appraisers may end up determining it as an "uneconomic remnant" and paying next to nothing to the property owners or the relocation costs of the tenants, the 12 Bones business itself. Loss of lease income, loss of income to employees who will be temporarily shutdown, loss of income to the owners during the transition, all the expenses of relocating and if possible, the additional cost of relocating to another site along the French Broad (remember, it's a flood plain). It's not easy to relocate a business especially one so tied to it's location. Ask any business owner with more than one location - the original location tends to be the popular one. Brand equity associated with location is lost.
INCREASED TAXES & TAXPAYER DEBTWho will pay for the continuing maintenance debt on all this improvement? A city that can't maintain its own roads or balance its own budget is hardly an example of financial prudence. Short term gain on tax revenue does not pay for long term debt associated with new capital projects.
While the AARRC says it has no intention of raising taxes, it will be forced to and they have the mechanism to do that as of October 2014 - the Municipal Service District also known as "Innovation Districts". Sounds so much better as Innovation District. That's how you sell the idea - rename it into something positive. By doing this, they can do two things:
1) Get Special Obligation Bonds that don't require public vote
2) Add additional taxes
See that article, "SOBs, MSDs, RAD, TAX" here