Tuesday September 9th, 7-9pm, representatives from NC Dept. of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration will be on hand at Hall Fletcher Elementary School to present updates and neighborhood-specific information about the planned I-26 Connector project.
This long-planned project includes potentially widening I-240 to eight lanes through West Asheville, extending Amboy Road to Brevard Road across West Asheville, and many other changes that will affect the neighborhood. Learn more at I26ConnectUsProject.org and NCDOT.gov and this slightly-outdated flyover simulation video.
This meeting is organized by East West Asheville Neighborhood Association to share information and input about I-26 changes and allow neighbors to meet DOT and FHWA officials. Residents of all surrounding neighborhoods are invited to attend.
In early 2012, as New Belgium Brewing Co. prepared to purchase land on Craven St. in West Asheville, the City of Asheville identified five possible routes (pictured above) for tractor trailers carrying material to and from the property, of which Haywood Road through East West Asheville to I-240 was perceived as having the fewest technical issues. A promising route (in blue) turning north onto Riverside Drive from the Craven St. bridge and entering the interstate at Hill St. near Hillcrest or Broadway was ruled out because the turn at the end of Craven St. was too tight and the yellow Norfolk Southern railroad bridge on Riverside Drive six inches too low for full-size tractor trailers.
That summer, the East West Asheville Neighborhood Association (EWANA) formed, initially to serve as a point of contact for issues surrounding the planned brewery. The expected volume of truck traffic, up to 104 truck trips per day at full production, soon emerged as a galvanizing issue for the neighborhood. As the project wound toward approval, EWANA leaders collected over 900 community members’ signatures on a petition asking the city to create an alternate route for the industrial trucks. A second traffic study and a heated debate at the Planning and Zoning Commission in January 2013 led the city, New Belgium and community groups to a possible solution: a massive infrastructure project already years in the works, known as RADTIP.
River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project. A multiyear, multimillion dollar project to rebuild and realign Riverside Drive and Lyman St into a centerpiece pedestrian- and bike-friendly boulevard lined with greenways and parks.
The City has already spent millions of dollars on the initial stages of design for RADTIP, mostly funds from a gigantic federal grant called Tiger 2. Now in process, the final design of the road and a second infusion of federal grant money, called Tiger 6, (combined with matching local funds) could be made to include changes that would allow full-size tractor trailers to use Riverside Drive to reach the interstate, either turning north and then entering the highway at Hill St. by Hillcrest or by turning south and following Lyman St to Amboy by Carrier Park, partially or totally avoiding Haywood Road. Out of negotiations with New Belgium and community groups, the City of Asheville emerged with a resolution setting the community on the path to a Riverside Drive truck route (through the RADTIP project) and addressing other safety and traffic issues in the area around the brewery. Passed by Asheville’s City Council in February 2013, the five points of the resolution were:
- The designers of RADTIP were directed to study the two problem areas for trucks first: the turn at Craven St. bridge and the too-low Norfolk Southern trestle.
- If funding for RADTIP was obtained, those would be the first parts of the project to be built.
- With a $50,000 donation from New Belgium, the City of Asheville would make safety improvements to the section Haywood Road potentially impacted by brewery traffic, adding bike lanes and wide sidewalks to the uphill section of the road.
- The City of Asheville would improve Hanover St. from the interstate exit to Haywood Road.
- There would be an annual review of traffic impacts by City Council.
Where things stand
The plan has faced several hurdles.
1. Are the improvements to Craven Street bridge and the road under the railway trestle technically possible?
Yes. The RADTIP design firm, CDM Smith, presented a set of options to city planners in August 2014. They showed lowering the roadway under the trestle (the particulars of railway politics in general and that bridge in particular mean you can’t raise the bridge; you have to lower the road) and either widening the Craven Street bridge or adding a second bridge alongside the existing one, with extra lanes and a bike lane. This would allow long trucks to turn off Craven Street onto Riverside in either direction, and north-turning trucks to drive under the railroad bridge.
2. Are the improvements cost-effective?
Unknown. The total cost estimate for RADTIP of $25 million is a ballpark figure. The design may come to cost much more money than the city planned on, or the truck improvements may turn out to be a huge portion of the total cost. We expect to know more precise cost estimates by November. What we have going for us is that the improvements also make Craven Street bridge safer for walkers and bikers — a city priority — and the whole set of improvements will make the River Arts District more attractive to other businesses, which might otherwise be turned off by lack of truck access. The city may also have an interest in re-grading the road at the railroad bridge to deal with the frequent flooding that occurs there.
3. Is there money for any of this?
Yes. On September 9th, Mayor Esther Manheimer announced that the city has been awarded $14.6 million of grant funding earmarked for this project. With matching funds from city, county and state, and other expected grants and loans, the city expects to be able to fund RADTIP through construction.
4. Will DOT go for it?
Unknown. Though Craven St. is not maintained by the NC Dept. of Transportation, its bridge is. Any new bridge or change to the bridge requires plans to go through notorious Raleigh bureaucracy. In casual conversations, DOT representatives have said they’ll consider an “encroachment”, the process of the city taking on all or part of the bridge(s)’ maintenance.
5. Is another City Council resolution necessary?
Probably yes. The first set of city council resolutions required the designer to look at truck improvements, and also to build the north section of the project with the first funds available, but did not require the truck improvements to be built. It couldn’t, since the cost and technical feasibility of those improvements wasn’t known at the time. The city could potentially honor its resolution by completing the feasibility study and then building the north section without the improvements. Once costs are known precisely, city council can direct the project to be built including the truck improvements.
6. Will it happen in time?
Probably no. New Belgium is set to begin shipping beer winter 2015. RADTIP construction is tentatively scheduled to finish in 2019. That means unless the schedule is dramatically sped up, the first four years of beer production will happen before there’s a truck route on Riverside.
7. Is there a backup plan?
Yes, of sorts. A certain quantity of delivery trucks will be owned by New Belgium for delivery of finished beer to the company’s distribution center in Enka. In some conversations, that number has been pegged as high as 70%. The rest will be contractors and general suppliers bringing cardboard, glass, hops, etc., to the plant. New Belgium has raised the possibility of leasing a type of truck either lower than regular semis or lower-and-shorter than regular semis. In other words, if one or both of the pinch points on Riverside Drive couldn’t be fixed, New Belgium could potentially lease a type of truck that could still navigate the road, potentially avoiding Haywood with its portion of the trucks, although not entirely, and at some extra cost to the company. A plausible scenario might see two-thirds of trucks (likely those owned by New Belgium) either driving north or south on Riverside Drive, with the other third using Haywood Road.
A planned public campaign this fall will push for a commitment and city council resolution to include the truck route in RADTIP plans and accelerate the construction schedule as much as possible. At the same time, we will ask New Belgium to consider ways, such as the smaller trucks, that it can reduce the impact of its trucks on Haywood Road during RADTIP construction. You can help by participating in EWANA meetings, writing and talking to your city council representatives, and highlighting the importance of safety on Haywood Road — the importance of walkability and bikeability and the appeal of our neighborhood Main Street. We will make updates on our progress and actions to take. Sign up for them on EWANA’s Facebook page, Nextdoor.com, or our email list.
Thanks to the many wonderful friends and neighbors who made the second annual East West Asheville Neighborhood Picnic a success! I met new attendees who hadn’t known of EWANA and returning neighbors who’ve participated since our beginning. It was great to see the next generation of neighborhood activists and board members (our kids) playing together, too. I think kids almost outnumbered adult attendees — and that’s saying something! Thank you all. Please, let’s do this again soon. — Rich
2nd Annual East West Asheville
Saturday, July 26th
Hall Fletcher Elementary field
Bluegrass jam led by members of Red June plus pick up kickball and other games.
Bring: Neighbors, a covered dish to share, your instruments and a chair. Bring dishware for yourself if you can, to reduce waste. There is one grill available.
Extra bike racks will be available, please try to walk or bike. If driving park your vehicle in Hall Fletcher School parking lot.
No alcohol is permitted at the school or city park property.
There will be info on the neighborhood group and opportunities to connect and volunteer with neighborhood projects. See the facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/653220408098186/
Hall Fletcher Elementary (6-8p)
Attending: Approximately 37 total
Food Tray provided by Westgate Earthfare
Mandy Phillips, EWANA Board member, recording
Meeting Moderated by Joshua Martin, Founded EWANA
1. Welcome, sign-in, ground rules, introductions/announcements
2. Crime Updates
—UPDATE ON JOYNER AVE BREAKINS (presented by Community Resource Officer, Sean Davis)
Investigators have opened all crime cases in our area from 2013 and 2014. There have been 4 arrests for the Joyner Ave break-ins. They have evidence that also links those 4 criminals to breakins on Michigan, and other nearby streets. It will take a few weeks to sort through the evidence. They also are considering the possibility that other acquaintances may have been involved and can be charged for assisting (ie girlfriends, etc). **One of the 4 criminals that were arrested in the Joyner Ave break-ins is currently out on bond. APD is hoping to have enough information this week to arrest him on more warrants.
Majority of the break-ins were during the day, a few at night. The criminals did not seem to be armed when breaking-in, but they were stealing firearms. The police are currently in the process of getting a search warrant for the criminals’ properties in Pisgah View. Typical sightings were of people going door to door asking if “so and so” still lives there, or selling magazines, asking to use the phone. Because neighbors reported these incidents, police were able to document sightings and similarities and it greatly helped in catching the criminals. ALWAYS CALL POLICE WHEN YOU SEE SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS (828)252-1110.
—OTHER CRIME UPDATES
Sunny Point and Asheville Sandwich Shop were both broken into a few days ago. The criminals smashed a glass door and window. It is believed that the Sandwich Shop alarm deterred the criminal from actually entering or stealing anything. The criminal did steal items from Sunny Point. They have leads and are working to make an arrest this week.
The Sunrise Drive/Sebring incident- One man has been arrested for stealing a dirt bike. The neighbors were a huge help in this case by reporting information for the police to document. There are also potential firearm charges against the criminal in custody. He was out on parole when he committed that crime, so he is currently being held without bond. And the FBI is expected to be picking up the firearm charge, so that criminal should not be getting out of jail. He is a violent offender and hopefully he will be off the streets now. There were others involved that have been identified and APD hopes to arrest them this week for assisting in the crime.
—HOW TO PREVENT CRIME (presented by Crime Prevention Officer, Keith McCulloch)
Community involvement is key! Know your neighbors, so you can recognize suspicious people. ***ALWAYS CALL POLICE IF YOU SEE SOMEONE SUSPICIOUS. (828)252-1110.
Social Media is proving to be a great resource. Examples include: Facebook, Next Door, neighborhood email lists, etc.
Take a home inventory of your items, serial numbers, photos of your jewelry etc. All of these details will help police track the criminal and hopefully return your items. Items are in the process of being returned to residents on Joyner Avenue. Keith re-iterated the importance of home inventory. It can be so helpful to police.
(SIDE NOTE: Asheville is a leading city in pedestrian accidents. Officer McCulloch brought safety lights for pedestrians and bikers to use!)
Police Department Crime Prevention website: assists in home security, gun safety, vehicle theft, etc
Police2Citizen: look up crime data in your area
Next Door: EWANA has started a group for residents to communicate safely (not public like facebook).
https://nextdoor.com/ (also available as an APP on iPhone)
National Neighborhood Watch: Resource for starting a neighborhood watch program
National Crime Prevention Council: crime prevention tools
—UPCOMING CRIME PREVENTION MEETINGS
Officer McCulloch is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, June 21 (9am-Noon) to host a Neighborhood Watch Fair. Location TBD.
Officer Davis is working with us to schedule a date to do a walk-through of the neighborhoods to point out areas that could be potential targets for crime and how to correct the problems.
3. New Belgium Updates (Presented by Rich Lee, EWANA Board)
—NBB hosts Roundtable meetings with EWANA and other organized groups. These are not secret, but they are limited to organizations with elected representatives.
—It was originally thought that lots of dirt would have to be brought in, but recent reports of toxicity have shown clean soil present, so NBB should be able to use dirt already on the property instead of bringing truckloads in.
—The noisy part starts next week. Big jackhammer machines will be brought in to set the foundations. Its just as you would expect, loud. Could start as soon as Monday May 19 and could run through beginning or middle of June.
—The Craven Street Project should start early to Mid June (raising the road, adding sidewalks, new sewer lines). This will potentially cause complete blockage of Craven Street. NBB is looking to see if its possible to start at Waynesville and block one direction of Craven and then once that is completed, switch and do the other direction.
—August/September will potentially start pouring the foundation, putting the walls up and the buildings should start coming together quickly.
—Logan Ave, Georgia Street are not in the Craven Project Plans. Not sure what the City or NBB plans to do. It is believed that a local man just purchased land on Georgia and Logan where he is planning to put condos/apartments. How to get Logan and Georgia on the city’s list? Contact McCray Coates, Craven Street Project Manager 828-259-5966
4. Proposed changes to Interstate 26 (presented by Tom Burnet, EWANA Board)
-There was an open house yesterday and mailers sent out to neighbors. This project started in the 90’s and almost died a few years ago, but has been resurrected.
-The overall proposal is to make a new bridge to relieve traffic from the Smokey Park Bridge, but other components of the project have been continually added (included West Asheville to Interstate 40).
-There are sections A, B and C of this project. Section B currently has the most controversy because there are four different alternatives proposed. City Council and Buncombe County have agreed on an alternative of Section B that does not turn Patton Avenue into a Boulevard, rather it keeps 240 using Patton Avenue (as it currently does).
-WAVL: There are 5 proposed lanes on each side of the new interstate (similar to Greensboro). There are traffic studies being done that do not seem to reflect the amount of traffic necessary for that many lanes. 8-10 lanes would take out a LOT of properties in our areas. Is it necessary or is it too big our area?
-DOT has recently been open to the idea of adding bike lanes. An Environmental Impact Statement should be released this Summer and we will work to get that information out to the public.
-Potential Time Frame: The city could begin purchasing properties as early as 2018 and begin the project as early as 2020.
5. Adopt-A-Highway (Presented by Ava Carr, EWANA Board)
-Should EWANA Adopt-A-Highway? Nobody opposed.
-Haywood Road is a highway. If we adopt: we get to put up two signs that list EWANA’s name! We are responsible for 4 clean-ups/year. Our area would go from 240 to the river/bridge before River Arts.
-WECAN has adpoted Haywood Road on the other side of 240
6. Logan Avenue Community Garden (Presented by Ted Figura, EWANA Board)
-The stairs of Logan Circle are owned by the County. But there is another set of historic stairs that is privately owned. It goes from about the Middle of Logan Avenue down to Haywood Road.
-There has been a slight interest to rehabilitate the stairs to create a pathway from Haywood to Logan, but the stairs need a lot of work, very expensive. Currently unsafe. The owner of the property would like to allow the lot at the top of Logan Steps (on Logan Ave) to be used for a Community Garden. That would provide an opportunity for Bountiful Cities to help us find funding to start the garden and fix the staircase.
-Proposition for EWANA to move forward in an exploratory manner to see our options for Community Garden and possibly fixing the stairs. Nobody opposed.
7. Short-Term Rentals (Presented by Kirk Weir, EWANA Board)
GOAL: TO EDUCATE, DISCUSS PROS/CONS, COLLECT INFO TO PASS ALONG TO CITY COUNCIL AT THURSDAY’S MEETING AND REQUEST A DELAY IN VOTING ON THE PROPOSED CHANGES.
-Chapter 7 Code of Ordinances: Homestay Clause (affects all neighborhoods except Downtown.) You as an owner have the right to rent out rooms for profit on a short term basis. The current problem is that people are running Homestays without being properly registered with the City and they are not always meeting the requirements under law. There are currently 2 homestays that are properly registered with the city. There are 430-450 illegal homestays currently operating.
The city only has two people responsible for monitoring and enforcing this law and it is not actively being pursued. If a neighbor turns you in, you may be fined $100 with minimal or no additional follow-up.
- No rentals less than 30 days unless in commercial or a registered homestay. (Does not apply to Business District, Residential RS2, RS4, RM6, RM8, RM16).
- Not charged the same tax as B&B
- No fees to register
- Limit of 1-3 rooms may be rented
- No more than 25% of your total heated sqft may be rented
- Minimum of 2500sqft house
- Minimum of 1 night stay, Maximum 14 nights
- Must serve breakfast or meal
- Owner must live in the house, must be primary house
- Must provide Off-street parking: 1 per room, 1 sapce for owner, 1 for employee
- Must be 500ft between each homestay
- May have 1 Full-time employee
- No annual safety checks required
- No proof of insurance required
- Minimum of 1200sqft house
- Not required to serve breakfast or meal
- Must provide Off-street parking: 2 spaces with vegetation or screen/fence
- Ability to use an accessory structure (ex apartment over your garage) as long as its up to code
Q: How will the city enforce the new laws?
Q: Are there too many rules to be enforced? Who is responsible if something to happens in a Homestay.. the owner of the property or the City since they do not require proof of insurance?
Q: Why change the laws at all? Never had a problem in the past.
Q: How will the city enforce it? One house on her street is a homestay, she has no problems with them. Another house on her street is a ST rental off Air B&B, has several complaints.
Q: City should eliminate the sqft limit. Its more important whether its your primary home vs secondary. Should be able to rent your entire house if you want to- should be owners rights. The extra income could help someone afford their mortgage or pay for their vacation. There should be no room limit and the owner should not have to be present.
Q: Can the law restrict Homestays in neighborhoods and only allow in areas like Downtown or on Haywood Road where its commercially zoned?
Q: Can the law restrict Homestays close to schools like Hall Fletcher?
Q: For the changes, for Air B&B (it should be up to the owner), but that being said… if Asheville becomes easier for short term tourists to rent than long term locals, it could hurt the already bad housing market.
Q: City is proposing to tweak the current laws, can they scrap the laws altogether and start new?
Q: In favor of changes because its not going away and we will hurt Asheville if we take it away.
Q: Is there a noise ordinance other than the standard 7am-7pm?
Q: Doesn’t the 500ft restriction eliminate the possibility for many of these to be legally registered?
Straw poll results
~27% even the proposed changes are too restrictive (primarily the 1,200 sqft requirement) [answer 1 w/comments]
~31% Support the proposed changes [answer 1]
~12% Support the proposed changes but they are not restrictive enough [answer 2]
~31% Oppose the proposed changes [answer 3 &4]
Meeting concluded 8pm.
Tuesday May 13th, 6 – 8 p.m., at Hall Fletcher Auditorium
Updates on neighborhood crime and arrests, short-term rental zoning changes, ongoing projects and new art.
Come meet your neighbors, get connected to events and get active!
RSVP or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
East West on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/375334389207146/
East West on NextDoor: https://eastwestasheville.nextdoor.com/search
East West mailing list: http://eastwestasheville.wordpress.com/contact/