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JUST SAY NO! To Protect Open Greenway Space on the French Broad River

By Karen Cragnolin

What is Jettie Rae’s Seafood Restaurant?

Jettie Rae’s is a proposed new seafood restaurant in the middle of the new greenway and sidewalk project along Riverside Drive, across from the Cotton Mill Studios and directly on the river in the *riparian area.  The proposed new restaurant is 5,500 square feet, has 36 parking spaces, a pavilion and open lawn and a public restroom  that will be only open when the restaurant is open.

Why are concerned citizens raising red flags and voicing concerns about this proposed restaurant? 

  • It contradicts several city adopted plans including

The Riverfront Plan

The Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan

The Riparian Buffer Plan

The Form Based code

 *All of these plans specifically identify this as open space

  • Asheville and Buncombe County have experienced two one- hundred-year floods in a four month period just this year.


  • The city-county flood plain maps were last updated in 2007 by FEMA.  They were adopted by local governments after being ground-truthed in 2010.  There has been significant development in Asheville and Buncombe County and throughout the watershed during this time and the maps need to be updated to reflect the impacts of that development on the floodplain.


  • The donated funds to buy this specific property were solicited for and designated for open space not development.


  • This specific property was designated as a flood hazard mitigation site by FEMA and FEMA funds were appropriated to buy out the previous owner.  The owner refused FEMA’s offer so RiverLink came in with a larger cash offer which the earlier owner accepted.  The unused FEMA funds had to be returned to FEMA since that money could only be used for this property.


  • The design review committee of the river commission voted against this project in a 2 to 1 vote because it did not meet design guidelines established by the city for development and redevelopment in the river district.


  • The Planning and Zoning Commission voted against this project.


  • The city already has an open (24-hour 7 day a week) public restroom in the PNC building directly across from the Curve Studios, very close to this property.


  • The proposed restaurant is land locked, an island, surrounded by public space.  Public space our tax dollars paid for.  To access the restaurant greenways, bike lanes and sidewalks will have to be invaded by heavy equipment and trucks.


  • Restaurants need frequent deliveries and trash removal which involved heavy trucks constantly crossing the public space.


  • RiverLink’s niche as an accredited land trust is to protect small parcels in perpetuity in the flood zones and on steep slopes in keeping with our mission to protect water quality.


  • The TRC, Technical Review Committee, of the city said there was not enough information submitted by the applicant (restaurant owners), for the city to review the application.


  • The sale of the property is contingent on the city changing the zoning on this parcel from open space to a new zone that allows this type of development.  Approval of this project will open the floodgates, so to speak, for more development in the riparian and flood zones.

CLICK for 13/WLOS NEWS by Raphael Pires Commission votes against restaurant proposed for Asheville’s River Arts District

CLICK for Asheville P&Z votes down proposed riverfront restaurant

How can we help to prevent this and other future projects from taking over the open space we have along the river?

  • Write, email or call city council members if you believe this parcel should remain as open space. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD

Copy this link and send to the editor at Mountain Express and the Citizen-Times, Katie Wadington –

Asheville City Council Contact –



Mrs. Cragnolin is an attorney licensed to practice in New York and the District of Columbia.  She started RiverLink in her home in 1986.  She served as RiverLinks executive director for thirty years. She led the organization  to become an accredited land trust.  During her tenure she  acquired numerous strategic properties and built the first greenways in Asheville,  in what is called the RAD (River Arts District).  Her vision is to permanently protect open space and greenways along the river corridor from Transylvania county to the whitewater of Madison county that will protect water quality and provide for alternative modes of transportation.


*A riparian buffer or stream buffer is a vegetated area (a “buffer strip”) near a stream, usually forested, which helps shade and partially protect the stream from the impact of adjacent land uses.

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