Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Riverview Arson

Several months ago, a neighbor friend and myself made yard signs and a banner protesting a steep slope development on Riverview Drive in West Asheville. The 15 house development clear cut over 3 acres on a steep hillside with approx. 40%+ slope. We talked to various neighbors about the development and asked if we could put a sign in their yard.

All the neighbors we spoke with were angered and frustrated with the development and sympathetic to our cause. Some offered to pay for the signs and some offered to help put them up. Folks driving by thanked us and gave us thumbs up. The sense of community was an incredibly rewarding experience.

As previously posted, an arsonist set fire to one of the houses last weekend. While I am not surprised by the fire and not very sympathetic to the developer, I by no means endorse the intentional destruction of private property. Arson is not a constructive means of protest and only serves to deteriorate a community and waste resources. The person responsible should be punished.

Mountain Xpress Article
The only positive I can see from this is more press and attention being paid to how we develop our land. Hills need trees.


LHB said...

Hi Duncan,

My husband and I own the wooded lot at the apex of Grandview and Riverview. Since we live in New Jersey, we have had to follow this story online. I don't know what makes me more sad...the building of these boxes on a steep slope or the arson. I would be curious to hear more about how the neighborhood is talking about this...and about the prospects for buyers to purchase these homes. Take care.

duncan said...


I have only spoken to a few neighbors since the fire, and all had the same feelings as myself. I am VERY curious to see how they price the homes - I heard a rumor of $400,000 but I find that hard to believe. I also don't see families with young kids buying the homes because of the lack of any yard. The builder mentions a "landscaping package" in the article, which I hope will help stabilize the soil and break up the painful monotony.

Lynn said...

Hi Again,

We are in Asheville this week and stopped by the site...the interior of the homes looks extremely well done. Great craftsmanship. So I would guess around the $300,000 range. I suspect they are targeting retirees, maybe as second homes. Meanwhile, we are looking into feasibility of building on our site. Challenge is to make it private! Hope to meet you some day soon!

Lynn said... the way...I am lhb!

duncan said...


the houses just went on the market last week and they are asking $350,000. The interior photos did look like they used some nice finishes, so hopefully they will be built to last. I just hope they don't fall off the mountain. good luck with your project. I hope to build in the next 3 or so years myself.

bobwx said...

Nothing like a lazy activist...try paying attention to how land is getting zoned and permits issued so you can actually do something about it beforehand. Do you really think a pox of cheesy little, and bitchy signs all over the place is really more attractive than the houses themselves. I don't like the things either, but get over it and move onto something you can change. btw, they are going for 249K and I wouldn't be surprised at offers of 210K getting accepted.

duncan said...

Bobwx - the development did not violate any current regulations or need to request a variance in zoning, therefore there was no opportunity for public input. Nor did it fall under the new steep slope ordinance because of it's elevation.

Clear cutting 3+ acres on a 40% slope is bad development and the yard signs were an attempt to draw attention and awareness to this fact.

I'm glad to see the prices have dropped significantly, despite the fact that this could reduce the value of my own property.

You should be careful in judging people too quickly as "lazy activists". My neighbor and I have also called the city regarding multiple erosion violations from the development. In addition, I have spent the vast majority of the past 10 years of my professional and civic life on actively promoting and educating people on green building and low impact development.