Asheville is going to consider rezoning a lot on Broad Street from residential, multifamily to mixed-use. Well, the city does want mixed-use development, but my first impression was how sad it was that “free” people had to be so mother-may-I about what we do with the “property” we “own.” With this particular project, there is especial government concern about a maple tree.

I recalled about 5-10 years ago when I lived on Broad Street. We had drug dealers at that end of the road. Most people tried to enter via Merrimon Avenue to avoid the waits in the drive-thru. It was typical for me to be about third in line coming off of Charlotte. In addition to the dealing, there was one particular guy who liked to stand in the middle of the road and demand money. He would ask for sums to the penny for particular uses, like $84.17 to replace his muffler. My landlady had the highest request, somewhere over $200.

We could not get the city interested in doing anything about the situation. After all, drugs and aggressive panhandling add to our unique Asheville flavor, and how dare we disrespect diversity and alternative lifestyles. We had our very own busker whose form of art was demanding money.

At the time, I had suggested imposing the UDO on drug dealers, requiring only so much window tint on vehicles operated by dealers, demanding cars be chromed with certain angles and finishes and parked only so far from driveways for certain amounts of time. I also suggested the city could conduct perpetual public works in front of the known crack houses. Finally, somebody complained to one Dr. Mumpower, who was serving on city council at the time. He was esteemed to be somewhat of a crank, but he had a way of getting things done. Within a month or two, the cops had evidently built the cases high enough that the neighbors could walk and drive hassle-free.

What I’m saying is, kudos to the P&Z folks who are so concerned that this mixed-use development might not sufficiently articulate the differences between residential entries and a business entry. I mean, I’m always climbing upstairs anytime I got to an office. Aren’t you? And always remember, our number-one enemy in this city is wrong architecture.