In addition to her new role as Vice Mayor, Asheville City Councilmember Gwen Wisler serves on a long list of important city boards and commissions, as well as civic organizations. Xpress talks with Wisler to find out what’s on her mind as she leads city projects from the budget to the update of the citywide comprehensive plan.
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.
“Choosing to cut down mature trees and convert land into impermeable surfaces is an abuse of that trust —especially when obvious alternatives exist.”
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.
“Vote for Gordon if you think a commissioner should believe transparency and fiscal responsibility are necessities, if you think that land conservation and farmland preservation are important, and if business tax incentives should be focused on local businesses, not just large corporations.”
While the theme is familiar — what to do with city-owned property facing the Basilica of St. Lawrence and the U.S. Cellular Center? — the current proposal has a twist: let the whole community weigh in on the future of a beloved, yet contentious, space.
From tiny homes to multifamily development — if a zoning tool can address Asheville’s housing shortage by promoting more infill development in residential areas, Asheville’s City Council is all for it. City planning staff got the go-ahead to draft new zoning amendments to encourage and remove barriers to infill development.
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.
“The city is not only failing to ‘prioritize’ edibles but is actively undoing the selfless work undertaken by thoughtful citizens.”
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.
Asheville City Council members huddled for a two-day retreat and planning session on Jan. 29 and 30, drafting a strategic vision for the community and a list of shared policy priorities.
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.
At a luncheon on Jan. 14, Mayor Esther Manheimer and Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler welcomed new and returning city board chairs and commissioners to their important positions in city government. Roundtable discussions produced suggestions for enhanced collaborations between the city’s 34 boards and commissions and other parts of city government.
“It’s hard to imagine a document or a policy that causes more cars per immigrant despite Council’s laughable rhetoric to the contrary; and it’s no accident.”
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.”
“If you know Gordon, you know that he’s a fighter for the underdog, for our children, for the poor and the disenfranchised.”