Construction at Duke Energy's Lake Julian facility

2018 in review: 7 Asheville-area climate stories

Twelve years: That’s how long humanity has left to hold global warming below the key level of 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to an October report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In light of that sobering reality, these developments from 2018 had the biggest potential impact on Asheville’s contribution to climate change.

Quentin Miller swearing in

Year in review: Evolving race relations in Asheville

Asheville has gotten whiter over the past two decades. The proportion of African-American residents in the city dropped from 17.6 percent in 2000 to 12.3 percent in 2016, a change city officials attribute to a combination of white influx and black exodus. For the people of color who remained in Asheville, 2018 proved a mixed bag.

SEARCH Listening Session

Mission Health’s approach to Dogwood Health Trust worries local nonprofits

“There’s real fear among nonprofit organizations that not supporting the current iteration of the board could mean retaliation in the form of being cut from the $1.5 billion that DHT will control once the sale is final,” wrote Asheville-Buncombe NAACP President Carmen Ramos-Kennedy. “In order to truly build trust, citizens and organizations must feel free to speak their hearts and minds without fear.”

Proposed Fairview Road hotel

No new hotels emerge from Council meeting

A 170-room proposal on Fairview Road was voted down 6-1, with only Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler dissenting, while a public hearing on a 56-room project on Biltmore Avenue was continued at the developer’s request until March 26. Council members Vijay Kapoor and Julie Mayfield raised concerns about the former hotel’s place in longer-term plans for Asheville.

Asheville city seal

Two hotels face Council scrutiny at Dec. 11 meeting

Two lodging projects will be up for debate: a 56-room hotel spread across four buildings on Biltmore Avenue downtown and a 170-room project on Fairview Road in Biltmore Village. The first proposes to convert three historic houses into accommodations and construct a new five-story structure with a restaurant, while the second would build a new six-story building.

CIBO affordable housing panel

No easy fix for affordable housing at CIBO breakfast

“Unless you are using the city and county tools and financing from either the city’s housing trust fund, the county’s affordable housing fund or some kind of funds from a taxpayer project,” real estate developer Kirk Booth told around 40 people at the Council of Independent Business Owners’ Dec. 6 breakfast meeting, “it’s not going to happen.”

Airbnb involvemen­t could mark turning point in homestay discussion­s

In its first known formal engagement with Asheville, Airbnb sent two of its representatives to an Oct. 23 discussion of homestay regulations sponsored by the Homestay Network, a local group representing over 600 legally permitted homestay hosts. The firm has also committed to another meeting of over 50 stakeholders on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

Cars on highway

Three WNC counties to be removed from vehicle emissions program

As of Saturday, Dec. 1, vehicle owners in Haywood, Henderson and Rutherford counties will no longer have to submit their cars and light-duty trucks to an annual emissions inspection. Inspections remain in place for Buncombe and 21 additional counties, while the three other counties bordering Buncombe — Madison, McDowell and Yancey — have never required them.

Asheville Police Department Chief Tammy Hooper

Asheville City Council split over Hooper resignatio­n agreement

According to interim City Manager Cathy Ball, Council held a closed session vote on the amount of Hooper’s $118,000 compensation. Mayor Esther Manheimer, Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler, and Council members Keith Young, Sheneika Smith and Brian Haynes all voted in favor of the agreement, while Vijay Kapoor and Julie Mayfield voted in opposition.

Solar house

Duke solar rebate program leads to call for ethics in renewables

As demand for solar energy increases, members of the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association worry that negative word-of-mouth about experiences with renewables could undermine trust in established installers. In August, the trade group developed a “Solar Business Code” establishing fundamental professional standards.

Asheville city seal

Charlotte Street “road diet” faces final vote at Nov. 13 meeting

If City Council votes to approve the proposed Charlotte Street Improvement Project, the road would be cut from four car lanes to three, making room for dedicated bike lanes and pedestrian improvements. Should Council approve the plan, bidding for construction is projected to begin this winter, with construction to start next spring or summer and finish by fall.