THE HISTORIC RESOURCES COMISSION
The HRC decides if new projects or changes to existing buildings are historically appropriate. They are charged with protecting the historical character of the Montford Historic District.
As with the other boards and commissions dealing with development, a majority of the members of the HRC are professionally involved in the development industry.
The 12 members of the HRC are Bryan Moffitt, William Eakins, Woodard Farmer, Craig Cline, Emily Kite, Emily Spreng, Amanda Warren, Valeria Watson, Benjamin Mitchell, Hillary Mannion, Charles “Ed” Flowers, and Gail Lazaras. Nine of the 12 are involved in the development industry.
The other boards and commissions involved in The Approval Process are likewise dominated by developers, and the boards take turn approving each other's projects.
Developers routinely insert themselves in neighborhood associations and other civic organizations where they can head off any criticism of development.
Self regulation of any industry leads to strange outcomes. When the HRC approved the new Chamber of Commerce building back in 2000, that project required removing several single family homes and a stand of mature trees. It took many trips by the log trucks to get the site ready. In what world is the Chamber of Commerce building "historic" development?
Some Montford residents have received permits for reasonable changes to their houses.
Others are refused permission to do things like replace drafty windows with modern tight ones, or screening in a front porch against mosquitoes, or replacing concrete retaining walls with ones made of stone. Those seem like reasonable requests too, but they are routinely denied by the HRC.
When the HRC approved the Chamber of Commerce building, the Montford Historic District lost several single family homes and a large stand of trees. Those are historic. Is this building "historic"?
Now developers can use the Chamber building as a precedent for approving the next development. And when approved, this project will be precedent for the next one.
Large building projects cost us green space. Asheville loses tree canopy every year caused by overdevelopment.
If the owners of this house had requested permission to install a small screened-in front porch they would almost certainly have been refused. But now it's okay to tear it down and build two new apartment buildings?
The house on Elizabeth St. on the project site.