It is of the utmost urgency that we act immediately to prevent further tree-canopy loss in Asheville.
Asheville is confronting two interlocked crises: climate change and income inequality. Decades of short-sighted development practices and patterns have turned many parts of our city into urban heat islands, areas devoid of trees and replete with surfaces that are impervious and have a high heat capacity, exposing their mostly low-to-moderate-income residents and locally owned businesses to potentially disastrous risk from extreme heat and flooding.
That’s why we, a resolute coalition of South Slope residents and city-wide concerned citizens, are asking our City Council to refuse to approve the proposed Tribute development in the South Slope unless the developer agrees to the changes that we recommend to address the following problems with his current plans:
1) The developer plans to remove approximately one acre of mature trees from the South Slope, including its last remaining patch of old-growth forest, the centuries-old historic Ravenscroft School oaks at 11 Collier Ave. These two dozen mature trees alone prevent some 55,000 gallons of stormwater per year from flooding the South Slope’s streets and basements.
2) Although the developer is publicly promising “70-80” units of affordable housing at 80% AMI, in neighborhood and design-review meetings he is making clear that all of these promised units will in fact be isolated well away from the primary Coxe/Asheland development in a separate, architecturally inferior apartment block he is proposing for the site currently occupied by the aforementioned Collier Ave. Woods.
3) Coxe Ave. is notorious among residents for flooding frequently, “like a river”, and city planners note that the South Slope is effectively the stormwater drain for all of central Downtown. The Coxe/Asheland portion of the development will not only remove another significant stand of mature trees alongside Asheland, but also extensively alter a steep bank just below these trees. These changes to the site’s topography raise serious concerns about erosion and flooding, both immediate and long-term.
Our recommendations are that the developer:
A) transfer the 70-plus-unit affordable-housing component planned for Collier Ave. wholly into the Coxe/Asheland mixed-use project;
B) drop the plan to develop the wooded area on Collier Ave. while we pursue preservation options, including acquisition as a public park or privately conserved area, land swap, historic-tree designation, or tree-preservation property-tax credits as currently being considered by the city’s Tree Commission;
C) agree to allow the city’s Stormwater Department to verify independently that the developer’s plans for Coxe/Asheland will result in substantial net stormwater reduction (not merely equivalence to pre-development stormwater volume) before they are submitted for approval to the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council, and that the Department’s analysis be made available for timely public review before such submissions; and
D) agree to work with the city’s Tree Commission to ensure that the developer’s plans for Coxe/Asheland minimize and mitigate tree removal, to achieve net tree-canopy stasis or increase for the South Slope area.
We remind our City Council members that they were elected to represent Asheville’s residents. We do need more affordable homes – and we need more trees to shelter and protect the people who live in them.
Sign the petition here: