CORRECTED Carrier Park property owner: Make riverside land worth my while to sell

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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CORRECTION 9/17/2012: According to the City of Asheville, an offer was made to purchase the land for $18,300, its assessed value (not $10,000). This post has been changed to reflect this price.


The new chain fence between Carrier Park and French Broad River park in West Asheville doesn’t block passage, but its message is clear: This land is privately owned. Anyone wishing to avoid trespassing must walk up a steep embankment to the side of the road, creating a safety concern.

Property owner Robert C. Burris, Jr. said that after an incident where he almost hit a careless mountain biker while backing his truck up on his land, on the advice of his attorney he placed a fence and signs that clearly mark the land as private.

According to City of Asheville spokesperson Dawa Hitch, the city offered Burris $18,300 for his .14-acre riverside properties, a purchase that would connect the two parks and let residents walk the existing greenway freely.

$18,300 is the assessed value of the property, but Burris called the city’s offer ridiculous. He countered with an asking price of $225,000.

He alleges he’s not looking to extort the city, but to receive the price he thinks is right for land with value to the community. He points out that the nearby former EDACO junkyard, on a stretch of riverside land that’s now Karen Cragnolin Park, was purchased for $1.2 million.

The 5.33-acre 2006 RiverLink purchase was called a “bargain sale” by The junkyard property sold for $225,141 per acre for former auto salvage property, a brownfield requiring the removal of 100 tons of concrete.

With an $18,300 offer for Burris’ parkside properties, the city would pay $130,699 per acre, 58 percent of the “bargain” price per acre paid for the contaminated EDACO property, a 50-year junkyard site. If Burris were paid the same amount per acre, he’d receive over $31,000, not $18,300.

Robert C. Burris, Sr., Burris’ father, was fired by the City of Asheville in 1965 for deliberately making a land purchase that conflicted with the interests of his employer. An avid airboater, the senior Burris took people on trips and, his son says, docked his boat on a family-owned slip of land between what would later become two city river parks.

Burris says his family has owned the property since the 1950s, and the river parks were built around land bought for family recreational use, during a time no one could have predicted its future value as a greenway in outdoors-loving Beer City U.S.A.

“They built their park knowing they would have to buy my land,” Burris said. “Nobody’s trying to keep anybody from enjoying the river. But I’m not going to donate my property to do it.”

“If  the city wants to talk seriously, a figure can be arrived at that everyone can live with,” he added. “My family’s been paying taxes on it for years. If they need it more than I do, fine. But make it worth my while to get rid of.”

Apples to apples: A comparison of riverside properties 

Burris family parcels:

Assessment price: $144,000 per acre

City of Asheville offer: $144,000 per acre

Asking price: $1.6 million per acre

Karen Cragnolin Park:

Sale price: $225,141 per acre

Prices per acre for City of Asheville park acquisitions: Figures taken from a 2007 Asheville Citizen-Times article

Beaucatcher Overlook Park

Acres: 30

Cost: $2.6 million

$86,667 per acre

Haw Creek

Acres: 9

Cost: $750,000

$83,333 per acre

Karen Cragnolin Park

Acres: 5.33

Cost: $1.2 million

$225,141 per acre

B&H Sheet Metal

Acres: 2.

Cost: $575,000

$287,500 per acre





Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. AVL Native January 14, 2013

    In 2012, the county explicitly stated that it will not acquire land for greenways by condemnation. Personally, I would still advise Mr. Burris to obtain an experienced attorney who deals with condemnation in our state, so he can get fair market value for his property.

    I sincerely hope that Mr. Burris stands his ground. Personal property is exactly that — personal property. If the city wants the property, they need to pay FAIR MARKET VALUE for the land. If the city has not legally acquired the man’s land — he is not obligated to do anything and people need to respect his rights by staying off of his property.

  2. AVL Native January 14, 2013

    It’s quite obvious that the people saying Mr. Burris should simply bend over and accept the City’s offer don’t own real estate in Asheville (or anywhere). Land within the city limits is scarce. So to have the City of Asheville say sell it for the pittance they offered is laughable at best when this man has been paying property taxes on his land over the years!

  3. Trent September 17, 2012

    Mr. Burris has every right to ask whatever he so desires for his property, and the city has every right to offer the amount or not. I applaud Mr. Burris for standing his ground. The citizens of Asheville are not entitled to have access to the property unless the city owns it.

  4. FDR September 17, 2012

    Lindsey: Haven’t you learned yet that people in Asheville want everything for free. From parking to free food at Prichard Park, they want everything for free. Geeez, then you have the people complaining about chain stores and they won’t even spend a dime at a locally owned joint. Asheville is full of folks that cut their nose off to spite their face. Because of that, prepare for Asheville to become the playground of the rich and famous…

  5. Lindsey September 17, 2012

    Its not a grudge, his family has owned the land that they have been using since before the park was there, to enjoy the river. I do not blame him in the least for asking the price he is. I do not see it as him being a jackass, and to be honest if the City decided to just take the property from him because its in the middle of a greenway and they do not want to purchase it, then they are thieves.

    Honestly, I thought that Asheville was a city that was supposed to be open and fair minded to all people. The only posts I see on here are from close minded people who only want what they want regardless of how it effects other people who obviously have been part of their community for a long long time. Grow up and realize what you are saying about a man you hardly know and then post something that is not disrespectful. Just because you don’t agree with how he is handling the situation does not mean you have to say rude things.

    1. eric September 17, 2012

      Seems to me that the problem isn’t really the particulars of the price, but the methodology of putting up a chain and a rude sign about the fight.

      If he had just negotiated with the city directly, he would likely have gotten a better price, none of us would know his name, and people wouldn’t be posting angry messages about him on the internet.

      And really, it is absurd that he’s asking a price so substantially higher than the assessment.

      Sure, maybe he’s a great guy looking out for his family. But he’s acting like a jerk.

      1. AVL Native January 14, 2013

        For liability reasons he does not want people on his property.

        To those who feel that Mr. Burris should basically give his land to the City of Asheville — maybe you should volunteer your time and throw a few fundraisers to raise $$$ for the greenway. Then the City can acquire his property in a legal manner and you will not be trespassing on private property.

  6. peace is better September 14, 2012

    I noticed the property boundaries are in red. As an alternative, why not build a trail around the Burris property and bypass the whole situation? He can keep his property and the public can use the greenway as planned.

    1. orulz September 15, 2012

      Although one of his parcels (9746 on the map) could be bypassed pretty easily, it seems to me that it is impossible for the trail to cross under the bridge without going through his other property (2950 on the map.)

      The assessment, offer, and asking prices have been shifting all over the place in this article – Author: can you please at least leave a record (using strikethrough) of when you change it? From what it seems to me, the city should bring their offer in line with the $225k-$287k offers for other land acquired near Carrier Park.

      1. Jennifer Saylor September 15, 2012

        Sorry, Orulz–some confusion still over which of the Burris parcels the city made an offer on. As they are different sizes (.1 and .04 acres), they change the math (though to the best of my knowledge, the money amounts are all correct). Strikethrough would only have added to the confusion–it’s my bad for not confirming with the city.

  7. Monty Phillips September 14, 2012

    I bet he makes his family proud.

  8. ashevillain September 13, 2012

    47 years is a long time to hold a grudge!

    I know parents pass a lot of things down to their offspring…but passing a grudge down to the next generation is a new one.

    “If the city wants to talk seriously” they can just take the land and he’ll get nothing and like it!

    1. Sparks September 13, 2012

      It actually sounds reasonable to me – it was his land long before the parks were created. I’m not sure why people are reading so much venom into it. $10K would be pretty much donating it. The city should make an offer closer to his asking price, since it’s in the same price range as property they bought nearby. Who knows? He might part with it for substantially less than his asking price.

    2. Lindsey September 17, 2012

      I agree with Sparks. I use this area to walk my dog, and it is a hassle to have it blocked currently. Maybe if they tried to get somewhat closer to his asking price he would not mind taking less. He does have a point though if they paid that much for the EDACO land, I understand him for asking for more money.

  9. JR September 13, 2012

    Ha! Good luck trying to get anyone else to even consider making an offer on this property. You’re lucky to be getting the offer from the City at all in these times.

    Seems like the City & his dad did not part well and his son has a chip on his shoulder regarding how to work w/ the politicians and bureaucrats.

    I’m not a fan of the words eminent domain, but this yahoo is asking for it if he’s not going to come to a fair & honorable compromise.

  10. Jeff September 13, 2012


  11. Catherine September 13, 2012

    It’s been a few years since I saw one of those airboats on the river. Those things are an assault on the senses, this guy is not helping himself out much.

  12. chett September 13, 2012

    jackass doesn’t even begin to tell this story “at the advice of his Lawyer” that’s a lawyer i’d stay away from. Asheville get off your ass and just annex the property in question only one person is going to protest

  13. Eric September 13, 2012

    This will not end well.

  14. Doug S. September 13, 2012

    What a jackass.


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