Josh Stein announced that his office had developed a new agreement after months of “extensive negotiations” involving Mission, HCA and the Dogwood Health Trust. He explained that the changes would strengthen HCA’s community commitments, make the DHT board more representative of its service area and ensure greater accountability for both organizations.
The document, set by the chamber’s advocacy and policy committee, adds opioid and substance abuse prevention to the docket for the first time. Affordable housing and expanded transit options throughout the Asheville metro region also made the cut, while Medicaid restructuring and the Interstate 26 Connector Project were both removed from last year’s list.
Sixteen Asheville-area startups will receive intensive personalized support from Venture Asheville as part of the entrepreneurship initiative’s Elevate program. Local business owners will be paired with successful company founders, executives and functional experts to help work through the challenges and opportunities of business growth.
“When I say I literally have physical anxiety about supporting this project, that is real and true,” said Council member Keith Young, citing his concerns over a lack of affordable housing in the Riverwoods development. “A part of me really feels like I’m letting folks down by approving this project.”
Citing unresolved questions about parking and a planned bike lane for Battery Park Avenue, the TRC continued its review until more information is available. The proposed 80-room hotel will likely come before the board again on Monday, Feb. 4, then face a hearing at the Downtown Commission on Friday, Feb. 8, followed by the Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday, March 6.
Bryan Robinson, a licensed psychotherapist and professor emeritus at UNC Charlotte, wrote #Chill to leverage his expertise on work addiction for a broader audience. “[The book is] not just for workaholics by any means; it’s [about] how all of us can chill, take the time to take care of ourselves and pay attention to the knee-jerk reactions that we make,” he says.
On Tuesday, Jan. 8, Council will hold a public hearing on how to reallocate nearly $1.4 million in HOME funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Two other public hearings concern conditional zoning modifications for residential developments, including a 137-acre project on Ferry Road.
Western North Carolina’s wild places and creatures lie at the heart of the region’s appeal, inspiring local artists and attracting visitors from across the globe. Events in 2018 promised to shape the future of those natural resources for years to come.
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.
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.
Asheville’s human population growth has been matched by an increase in the number of vehicles on the region’s roads. Efforts to accommodate the resulting traffic — or move people around the city in different ways — were at the heart of many new developments in 2018.
Assistant City Attorney John Maddux, who serves as the city staff liaison to the Noise Ordinance Appeals Board, admitted that he currently had no good solution to the problem of commercial noise. However, he did propose numerous changes to the noise ordinance aimed at streamlining complaint resolution.
Change proved the only constant among staff members in Asheville city government during 2018. Firings, resignations, reassignments and new hires left the city’s bureaucracy radically changed from its makeup at the start of the year.
With apologies to Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a resident of Western North Carolina in possession of little fortune must be in want of affordable housing. In 2018, governments and organizations throughout the area tried to tackle the problem with a range of creative solutions.
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
Buncombe County Board of Commissioners members expressed their concerns over the city’s impending requests for county funds to expand its Asheville Redefines Transit service. “This is Buncombe County; it’s not the city of Buncombe,” said Commissioner Mike Fryar.
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.