photo credit: Project Aspire conceptual packet, submitted to City of Asheville Planning and Zoning Commission
In September, we sent the letter below to the members of Asheville City Council expressing our support for Project Aspire in downtown Asheville because we believe that dense, multi-use development located in our city centers is part of the solution to meeting both our housing crisis and our climate crisis. Read on to learn about why we support this project:
Dear Asheville City Council,
On behalf of MountainTrue and Neighbors for More Neighbors WNC we ask for your support of the conditional zoning change requested by the developers of Project Aspire. This project, as currently proposed and designed, projects to provide much needed affordable housing in the center of downtown which is both beneficial to area residents struggling with the cost of living in our community and also fits within our organization’s goals for responsible development.
Neighbors for More Neighbors WNC recognizes that we are facing both a housing crisis and a climate crisis and we advocate in support of building homes that minimize our collective carbon footprint as best as possible. Project Aspire fits with our definition of responsible growth in multiple ways. For starters, we know that living close to city centers reduces vehicle miles traveled. According to the EPA, the transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to US greenhouse gas emissions and according to a report from Smart Growth America titled Driving Down Emissions, from 1990 – 2017 “Even as our vehicles have gotten far more efficient, emissions have risen. Why? A 50% increase in driving overwhelmed all of those improvements in fuel efficiency.” The location of Project Aspire means residents and hotel guests will drive fewer miles to reach amenities, jobs, and entertainment which is a win for the environment.
Secondly, building higher within our city center allows for the creation of more housing without contributing to urban sprawl. As an organization that is focused on protecting our region’s farms and forests, we are supportive of adding housing vertically so that we cut down fewer trees, convert less tree canopy into asphalt, and minimize stormwater runoff. We see increasing building height through projects like Aspire that create additional housing units in the center of town as a beneficial way to address the high need for housing in our community, without converting more of our rural landscape into sprawling single-detached homes that need more roads and new infrastructure.
We know our community desperately needs more housing to accommodate both existing and future residents and we ask for your support of Project Aspire as a way to meet some of that demand, while minimizing harm done to our natural environment.
Thank you for your consideration,
Susan Bean, MountainTrue Housing & Transportation Director