County planning staff members say special and family subdivisions have been abused by developers to skirt regulations on infrastructure and hillside protection. The Board of Commissioners will consider whether to approve new rules to fix those issues during its regular meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, in room 326 at 200 College St.
Down from 460 homes in November 2014, only 63 houses listed at less than $200,000 were available for sale in Buncombe County as of July 2019. Median rental costs in the area have also increased at a 5.4% annual rate over the same period.
Nine residents spoke at the Oct. 1 meeting of the Board of Commissioners about the county’s new agreement with residential waste collection contractor Waste Pro, the second consecutive meeting at which the issue was on the agenda. All of the commenters were critical of the contract, which requires customers to use Waste Pro-provided carts for their trash and recycling.
Beginning next week, contractors will begin installing roadside signs and safety barriers on an approximately 18-mile stretch of Interstate 26, the first step in a $534 million project that will add multiple lanes to the heavily trafficked road. The N.C. Department of Transportation anticipates that construction will wrap up by the summer of 2024.
The report notes that the county approved nearly $19.57 million in capital spending for the last fiscal year, including more than $7.95 million for Buncombe County Public Schools. However, less than $1.12 million has been spent to date on those school needs, with just over $1.87 million spent on other county projects.
“Many artists, creatives, musicians and performers are leaving due to the rapidly increasing cost of living, putting Asheville’s culture at risk,” says Stephanie Moore of the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design. Despite a flurry of concern and initiative, local leaders and developers are finding that providing affordable living and working space for the area’s working artists remains a difficult challenge as property values and rents continue to climb in the city.
Building permits and inspections, birth control through county Health and Human Services and disposal of solid waste are all slated to become more expensive in Buncombe County’s newly proposed fee schedule. The Board of Commissioners will vote on the new fees during its regular meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, in room 326 at 200 College St.
“We recognize that the impacts of tourism are creating some experiences in our community that residents don’t like, and there are feelings that we’re being overwhelmed by tourism,” said Stephanie Brown, president and CEO of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, in a Sept. 3 presentation to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.
Asheville’s current short-term rental rules do not allow homestays to offer rooms that contain either a stove, a full-sized refrigerator or a kitchen sink. A new definition of “kitchen,” proposed by local host organization the Homestay Network, would still forbid stoves in homestay dwellings but allow sinks and refrigerators.
The $100,000 report, commissioned from Massachusetts-based consultants The Cadmus Group, finds that local government action will be insufficient for Asheville and Buncombe County to run operations entirely on renewable energy by their goal date of 2030 without the purchase of renewable energy certificates or significant state-level regulatory changes.
“I wouldn’t even call this a hotel project. I mean, yes, it is leaning more towards hotel than residential, but we are getting affordable housing downtown,” said commission member Joe Archibald. The project as approved includes 137 hotel rooms and 37 residential units, 11 of which are reserved for low-income households or local artists.
Republicans Mike Fryar and Robert Pressley, as well as Democrats Amanda Edwards and Al Whitesides, stood against the 1.05-acre rezoning, while Democrats Brownie Newman and Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, along with Republican Joe Belcher, gave their approval. The county planning board had recommended against the proposal, citing concerns over steep slope development.
Habitat plans to use the money to provide down payment assistance for 38 affordable housing units at its proposed Old Haywood Road neighborhood in West Asheville. Households earning 80% or less of the area median income ($52,800 for a family of four) would receive $20,000 toward a home purchase.
The board tagged a higher overall population, greater burdens associated with chronic health conditions and obesity, growing racial gaps in academic achievement, a rising jail population, loss of farmland, higher housing costs and increased public health care spending as high-certainty, high-impact trends.
On Friday, Sept. 6, said Council member Julie Mayfield, the city will hold an affordable housing work session to explore options such as tiny homes and housing voucher acceptance for long-term rentals. Mayfield also announced that Council plans to discuss whether the city should temporarily ban new hotels in the city during its Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting on Thursday, Aug. 29.
Beyond the city’s loan of more than $48,000 for each of the 11 affordable units in West Asheville, which will be deferred for 30 years and accrue no interest, Homeward Bound is also seeking roughly $280,000 in commercial loans and has received $89,153 in federal HOME funding administered by the Asheville Regional Housing Consortium.
What does transit — and the city’s support of its bus network — mean to Asheville? Xpress talked to residents with different perspectives to better understand Asheville Redefines Transit’s role in the community.
Questions linger about the buses’ capability to keep up with their diesel and hybrid counterparts on Asheville’s demanding roads. Issues with the length and battery life of the vehicles have led city officials to delay the planned purchase of three more electric units.
The questionnaire will advise the city on which updates and renovations of the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium best serve community needs. Once the survey is completed, Earl Swensson Associates Architects will draft programming and conceptual designs for the building.
“Building a Climate-Resilient Asheville,” debuted during a June 19 meeting of the city’s Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment at The Collider, focuses on practical steps individuals can take to reduce their vulnerability to extreme weather.
At Asheville City Council’s June 25 meeting, Council member Julie Mayfield flipped on her previous opposition to the project, joining Mayor Esther Manheimer, Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler and Vijay Kapoor to complete a majority vote that allowed the rezoning of the historic building for hotel use.