by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
Asheville City Council has a couple big planning items on its agenda for tonight. (See IV-A. & VI-A.) I really hope nobody quizzes me on allowable sidewalk widths, etc. I regret people think this kind of stuff is important, and that I am so damaged that I feel as city/county correspondent for a local paper I need to read every micromanagerial word.
My main feeeeeeeeeeeelings, though, are an aversion to legislating aesthetics. I thought zoning was supposed to protect the health, safety, and welfare of citizens; and I can’t recall any outbreak of communicable diseases spread by big, purple buildings. When I woke up, I was stewing over a comment in one plan celebrating people giving up their hopes, wishes, and dreams. I just supposed those were forfeited by property owners and not those advocating for community rights.
Lastly, when I think of the charm of, say an old Italian village, I am not enrapt in the thought of the community goals wafting through the minds of the town planners. Rather, I might look at this or that pretty feature and wonder what the craftsman was trying to accomplish or share. I mean, who could care about a Ponte Vecchio whose designers said, “Butchers shall go here, and souvenir merchants shall go there. Floor space shall not exceed 200 sq. ft. Only natural materials may be used on facades, but the same materials are not to be used on adjacent facades. Fenestration for shops on the first level shall cover no less than 80 percent of the stream-facing facade. Refer to the following tables . . . .” A bit of craziness, spontaneity, and original art and engineering are what make the Ponte so cool.