The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners kept their last meeting of the year short — under an hour — which was just long enough to give countywide zoning final approval and keep Vice Chair Bill Stanley in his spot for another year.
The commissioners gave final approval, 4-1, to reinstate countywide zoning. While zoning passed by the same margin at the board’s Nov. 17 meeting, state law requires that zoning ordinances pass two readings.
Compared to the November meeting, where many anti-zoning activists showed up to criticize the measure, Tuesday’s was fairly sedate. However, Chair David Gantt (who supports zoning) and Vice Chair Bill Stanley (who cast the dissenting vote) debated the merits of the measure. Gantt asserted that zoning is necessary to give the population a say in the structure of their community. Stanley, however, believes the county has enough land regulations already.
During the public-comment portion of the meeting, some residents criticized the board for passing the measure. Representatives of the manufactured-homes industry also showed up, saying that while they had no problem with zoning as a whole, they oppose a provision banning new manufactured homes from the county’s residential districts, believing it harms affordable housing.
The board passed a similar ordinance in 2007, but the N.C. Court of Appeals struck it down earlier this year, finding that the board had given insufficient public notice, and that the county’s planning board didn’t have enough time to consider the rules.
The new zoning rules went into effect immediately, but at the board’s direction, the fees for applying for a different zoning designation are waived for the next 90 days.
In other developments at the meeting:
• The board also reappointed Stanley to serve as vice chair for another term. The position serves as chair when Gantt is out of town or unavailable. The board’s longest-serving member, Stanley has been a commissioner since 1989 and is often sent to represent the board at meetings of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.
• In closed session, the board decided to consider ending official prayer before its meetings.
— David Forbes, staff writer