An action plan county staffers presented to the Board of Commissioners Oct. 18 includes steps to help owners of cheaper homes seek reductions if they think the county has valued their homes too highly, to get property owners to report when they upgrade their homes and to refine some aspects of how Buncombe’s appraisers do their jobs.
Author: Mark Barrett
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Buncombe taking steps to make tax values more equitable
The county plans to spend $844,000 on new tax assessment initiatives over this fiscal year and the next. Actions include asking Buncombe residents to report improvements to their homes, buying software to double-check the valuations county staffers give to homes and reaching out to residents to help them challenge their property tax values.
Commissioners to consider tax changes; higher STR rates off the table
Proposed changes on the agenda for the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, Oct. 18, include adding staff and improving software to make the county’s assessment of home values more accurate, asking state legislators to expand a tax break some homeowners get under state law and increasing efforts to tell homeowners how to challenge their tax value.
Manheimer, Berthiaume pull in Asheville campaign funds
Mayor Esther Manheimer and climate change consultant Maggie Ullman Berthiaume have raised the most campaign funds so far in this year’s race for Asheville city government positions, according to reports filed by candidates’ campaigns. Manheimer had raised $19,550 as of mid-July, while Berthiaume had taken $29,442 in donations.
APD taking longer to respond to 911 calls despite policy change
Response times rose from an average of 8.2 minutes for the highest-priority calls in the 12 months before the shift — which had the Asheville Police Department no longer send officers to the scenes of certain minor crimes — to 9 minutes in the 12 months after.
High-level land-use discussions shape neighborhood decisions
Deciding what gets built on an empty lot down the street should, according to state law, begin with decisions about what gets built across an entire city or county. Counties and municipalities that want to have zoning in their jurisdiction first need to write a comprehensive plan that looks at big questions like which areas are best for growth.
‘Quasi-judicial’ procedures govern some development
People who go to a meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment might not realize the bland room where the board gathers is a first cousin to a court of law. Learn more about how quasi-judicial bodies work to govern development in North Carolina.
How to participate effectively in land-use decisions
The following guidelines are best practices for getting public officials to tune you in if you are involved in a development issue. Each piece of advice is based on interviews with people who used to turn thumbs up — or thumbs down — on development projects and others with experience in the field.
How zoning, land-use rules work
Court rulings and state laws sometimes mean local governments can’t adopt zoning rules their constituents might like — and in some cases, it’s uncertain just how much authority municipalities have, say Asheville City Attorney Brad Branham and other lawyers working in the field.
No violations of local nondiscrimination ordinances found so far
The number of complaints filed under nondiscrimination ordinances with city and county governments has yet to top 25, and it appears that no one has been found in violation of the rules so far. According to public records obtained by Xpress, Asheville had received five complaints as of January, and Buncombe County had gotten 17 as of early March.
Forest plan may boost special status for Craggy Mountains
The pending approval of a U.S. Forest Service plan for the roughly 1 million acres that the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests cover in Western North Carolina is likely to influence whether a large swath of the Craggy Mountains should be open for timber harvesting or managed for recreation.
What happens to short-term rentals in the long-term?
The amount of money brought in by these short-term rentals in Buncombe County during the first half of this year was up 131% compared with STR revenue for January through June 2019. Consumer preferences — and choices to be made by government officials locally and in Raleigh — will affect the size of that gravy train and who will benefit from it in the years to come.
Critical race theory debate comes to Buncombe
Critical race theory, a set of ideas about the ways race influences society, drew 13 commenters at a June 3 meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Education. Officials at both the county and Asheville city school systems say they do not explicitly teach CRT and encourage students to develop their own judgments.
Take me to the river: What’s next in the RAD?
Some predict high demand for residential and retail space, as illustrated by several development projects planned or under construction. There are also fears that rising real estate prices may eventually push out some of the artists who have helped make the RAD a magnet.
New trails are opening up Hickory Nut Gorge
A cooperative effort by Conserving Carolina, state and local governments, other nonprofits and the general public is gradually developing the Hickory Nut Gorge State Trail in and around the rugged terrain that lies just beyond Buncombe County’s southeastern border. In late April, a new 2.5-mile trail section is scheduled to open.
Controversial choices: Debating the Pratt & Whitney project
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and other supporters say jobs at the aerospace manufacturing plant will provide opportunities for workers to improve their standards of living. Critics say those wages are not worth the moral cost: Bolstering a military-industrial complex that causes deaths half a world away and eats up government funds better spent on other needs.
Dramatic year in politics creates few shifts in power
Xpress contributor Mark Barrett unpacks the surprisingly static results to emerge from a politically tumultuous year in Western North Carolina.
Specialty retailers hope fall turnaround continues for holidays
With COVID cases rising, Black Mountain retailers worry that the modest rebound they’ve seen this fall might fade away before the holiday shopping season can give their balance sheets a much-needed yearend boost. But several factors could work in their favor: a strong commitment from residents to support their local stores, a sense that smaller shopping districts pose less risk than crowded city centers and widespread compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines.
U.S. House race gets expensive
The money faucet is open in the race to represent Western North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. Republican candidate Madison Cawthorn has raised more than Democratic candidate Moe Davis, but Cawthorn’s campaign has also spent heavily to bring those dollars in. As of Sept. 30, Davis had more cash on hand than his opponent.
The gender divide
A look at the online rosters of agents at the largest real estate firms in Buncombe County suggests that women make up a majority of brokers here also, although many top-level jobs are still held by men.
Color show: Short fall walks lead to long views
Xpress contributor Mark Barrett shares his pick of lesser-known Western North Carolina hikes with opportunities to take in the region’s autumn splendor.