Buncombe commissioners enact tougher steep-slope development rules

Buncombe commissioners enact tougher steep-slope development rules-attachment0

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, Buncombe County’s Board of Commissioners met and took the following actions:

• By a 5-0 vote, approved county staff’s recommendation to adopt stricter rules for development on steep slopes. The Planning Board had recommended that stricter rules kick in for slopes with a 30-percent grade or higher; staff recommended 25 percent. Commissioners went the latter.

• In a separate but related public hearing, commissioners also voted 5-0 to adopt other steep-slope development regulations.

Xpress reporter Jake Frankel covered the meeting. His live text messages via Twitter are below:

4:43 p.m. Things are getting started here at the Buncombe Commisioners meeting with a proclamation declaring Oct. 30 “kids voting day.”

4:47 p.m. The chambers are packed, with most folks likely drawn for the scheduled public hearing on revisions to steep slope rules.

4:51 p.m. Commissioners will consider toughening rules on new subdivisions above 2,500 feet. For more on the issue: http://bit.ly/aIm3ch

5:05 p.m. Planning Board Chair Scott Hughes: We’ve worked for the last two years to be fair, but you can’t please everybody.

5:08 p.m. Hughes: no doubt that changes will make development more expensive. … This is extremely political.

5:13 p.m. Hughes: Planning board recommends stricter rules for slopes starting at 30 percent. Planning staff recommends stricter rules kick in at 25 percent.

5:15 p.m. Hughes: It’s going to be years before we no the effect of these changes to the rules.

5:18 p.m. John Creighton takes the podium to present a slide show on revisions: The area has seen the biggest growth since the gold rush.

5:19 p.m. John Creighton: Landslides are a major danger and a big reason why we need stricter development rules.

5:35 p.m. County Attorney Michael Frue: If board passes new rules, developers can ask for exemptions or variances on a case-by-case basis.

5:38 p.m. Frue: We recommend passing staff version of subdivision ordinance.

5:47 p.m. Public hearing: Mac Swicegood, representing CIBO, says local developers weren’t informed of proposed revisions.

5:51 p.m. Former City Council candidate Elaine Lite: I hope these rules are just the start.  We need to protect the beauty of our mountains.

5:58 p.m. Local representative from the Sierra Club urges commissioners to pass staff proposal, says the local economy relies on protecting beauty of mountains

6:11 p.m. Several new Buncombe residents speak out to say that the beauty of mountains is what inspired them to move here.

6:17 p.m. Mike Butrum from the Asheville Board of Realtors says about half of the group supports new rules and half against.

6:19 p.m. Butrum: Builders get vilified a bit too much, restrictions manifest into higher costs.

6:27 p.m. Aaron Penland from Arden: We can’t put a dollar figure on beauty of mountains, houses should not be allowed on tops of ridges.

6:30 p.m. Buncombe resident Albert Sneed: Decision shouldn’t be made by emotion and fear. Commisioners should pass planning board’s recommendation.

6:32 p.m. Arden resident Tate McQueen berates commissioners over cleanup of CTS site, says they’ve been impotent.

6:36 p.m. RT @RussBowenNews13: Most speakers want the stricter slope development recommended by staff, as opposed to planning board.

6:49 p.m. Commissioners Chair David Gantt: We have a moral obligation. God has entrusted us with these mountains and we’ve got to take care of them.

6:50 p.m. Commission passes motion to pass stricter staff proposal on steep slope development 5-0.

6:50 p.m. Gantt: The rules will impact people who have no respect or regard for the mountains. This ordinance will leave this community safer.

7:04 p.m. Board now holding another public hearing on a related resolution on zoning overlays on steep slopes.

7:08 p.m. Local real estate appraiser: These new rules are going to have a big impact on property appraisals and tax assessments.

7:15 p.m. Order something for me too pretty please? RT @RussBowenNews13: I’m going to have to ask for a food delivery to this meeting.

7:18 p.m. Board passes additional steep slopes zoning ordinance amendments recommended by county staff 5-0.

7:26 p.m. Board thanks Nypro’s General Manager Joe Freitas for expanding company in Asheville, adding jobs to local economy.

7:32 p.m. Conservative activist Mike Fryar takes the podium during general comment period to discuss Sheriff Van Duncan’s budget.

7:40 p.m. Fryar alleges that Duncan has spent too much money on new deputies, other uneccessary expenses.

7:42 p.m. Fryar also alleges that Duncan and several deputies break the law by using county vehicles for personal use.

7:47 p.m. Meeting adjourned(!) (thanks for the offer) RT @RussBowenNews13: @JakeFrankel ur still there? Maybe I should order u food.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987. Follow me @mvwilliams

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