During a meeting that lasted almost till midnight, Asheville City Council approved New Belgium's brewery in the River District. Council also approved funding for sidewalk improvements and a study of alternate truck routes to address concerns of some residents about the traffic the business will bring. (Pictured: City Clerk Maggie Burleson swears in all those who wanted to speak at the public hearing. Photo by Max Cooper)
Both measures passed 6-0 (Mayor Terry Bellamy was absent due to illness). Representatives from surrounding community and business organizations said they welcomed New Belgium, but had concerns about routing trucks through the area's aging infrastructure and down Haywood Road.
The city approved $220,000, $50,000 from New Belgium, to improve sidewalks in the area. It also committed to studying the feasibility of road improvements that would allow trucks to take a more industrial route along Riverside Drive.
• delayed a vote on the second phase of a Harris Teeter development on Merrimon Avenue until Feb. 12. The grocery store is already under construction, and this approval involves several neighboring parcels, slated to become possible drive-thru businesses. Critics, including many neighbors, asserted that the drive-thrus are a suburban-style feature that will create bottlenecks. One even said that distracted drivers might maim elderly pedestrians if the development were allowed. However, some on Council noted that if they didn't approve the developer's plans, under the site's existing zoning they would be able to build drive-thrus without even going to Council for approval.
• approved a Food Action Plan 6-0. The plan adds food sustainability to the city's goals, and encourages curbside composting, local farmer's markets, and the use of local food by city government, among other measures.