Jasmine Beach-Ferrara (second from right) declaring victory, surrounded by her wife Meghann Burke (center), mother (far left) and members of her campaign team. Photo by Able Allen

Making history: Jasmine Beach-Ferrara to become first openly gay Buncombe County Commission­er

With her win in the District 1 Democratic primary, Jasmine Beach-Ferrara is slated to become the first openly LGBT Buncombe County Commissioner. To get there, she had strong competition from City Councilman Gordon Smith and from another civil rights activist, Isaac Coleman. Since no Republican filed to run for the District 1 seat, Beach-Ferrara is almost certain to take office in the fall after the General Election.

Park? Plaza? Revenue generating building? City Council approved a community visioning process for city-owned lots on Haywood Street and Page Avenue. All options will be on the table. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Council approves planning process for Haywood Street sites; will demo former Sister Cities building

Asheville City Council approved a public visioning process to solicit broad community input on the future use of city-owned property across from the U.S. Cellular Center and the Basilica of St. Lawrence. Council also voted to demolish a city-owned building adjacent to the area at 33-35 Page Avenue. The building was the headquarters of the Asheville Sister Cities organization before the structure was condemned in November last year.

Asheville City Hall. Photo by Virginia Daffron

City Council to talk housing: affordable housing loans, residentia­l density

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, City Council will consider strategies for housing the city’s growing population. Over $1 million in low-interest affordable housing loans will come to a Council vote, and city planning director Todd Okolichany will present a proposal for updating existing ordinances to encourage higher density infill development in residential areas.

City Council votes on a community visioning process as next step on Haywood Street parcels. Photo by Virginia Daffron

What’s next for Haywood Street site?

One clear winner from the 2015 City Council elections: local hopes for a public space for the city-owned lots facing the Basilica of St. Lawrence and the U.S. Cellular Center. Not so clear: exactly what kind of space Asheville needs and who will pay for it. The city’s Planning and Economic Development committee took up the hot potato issue to try to figure out how to move forward.

South-bound traffic on Sweeten Creek Road at 3 p.m. on a Wednesday. Photo provided by South Asheville Resident & Business Community Organization (SARBCO)

City Council to consider Ban the Box; apartments at former Plasticorp site

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, City Council will take up the Ban the Box initiative for city hiring, potentially removing questions about an applicant’s past criminal history from the initial application form for certain positions. Council also will hear public comment on matters including reallocation of unused affordable housing development grant funds, an airport hotel and a controversial apartment complex proposed for Mills Gap Road.

Street level plan for proposed redevelopment of One West Pack Square. Image from McKibbon Hotel Group

Council to consider BB&T renovation­, Lee Walker Heights resolution

On Tues., January 12, City Council will turn its attention to matters including naming the second Monday in October “Indigenous People’s Day,” voting on the redevelopment of the former BB&T building as a luxury hotel and considering a resolution declaring the redevelopment of the Lee Walker Heights public housing community a “redevelopment project.”