In a year marked by a constant churn of updating numbers — COVID-19 dashboards, economic forecasts, political polls — Assistant Editor Daniel Walton took comfort in stories that were able to report more deeply on some of the issues facing Western North Carolina.
Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chair Brownie Newman lists land use policy as a top priority for the new commission, sworn in on Dec. 7. Board members will likely revisit the county’s land use plan, a document originally developed in 1998 and last updated in 2013, in response to rapid community growth.
The three-year construction project brings the North Fork Dam up to North Carolina state standards for safety and adds climate resilience to Asheville’s largest water source. The work marks the largest renovation of the dam and its accompanying North Fork Reservoir since the facility’s opening in 1955.
Xpress has compiled election night summaries for each of the contests previously included in our general election voter guide. The Buncombe County Board of Elections will not officially certify results until Friday, Nov. 13, and the state board will not issue certification until Tuesday, Nov. 24.
Asheville’s infamous “Pit of Despair” may soon move one step closer to redevelopment. At Asheville City Council’s meeting of Tuesday, Oct. 27, members will review — and potentially approve — a concept plan for two city-owned parcels located at 68 Haywood Street and 37 Page Avenue.
Zoning may not deliver the same zing as other hot-button issues in a competitive election cycle, but it’s among the most crucial discussions Asheville leaders and residents face as the city grows. Each candidate has different ideas about what to do first.
Move over, police, protests and the pandemic: At Asheville City Council’s meeting of Tuesday, Oct. 13, the focus shifts to development (at least according to the agenda).
This year’s contest to fill three seats on the town’s nonpartisan Board of Aldermen initially drew nine candidates, a field that has since dwindled to six. Four of those candidates participated in a Sept. 21 candidate forum hosted through Zoom by Indivisible Black Mountain.
The revision comes thirteen years after the county Board of Commissioners first adopted the plan and reflects myriad changes to Buncombe’s agricultural sector, from the vibrant expansion of its direct-to-consumer markets to the gradual evaporation of its commodity dairies.
At its meeting of Tuesday, Sept. 22, Asheville City Council will vote on a budget amendment that would fund the APD at roughly $29.3 million, a reduction of $770,000 from a previous proposal. Many activist groups, including Black AVL Demands, have called for a 50% reduction to the APD and reinvestment in community services.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will vote on a resolution to adopt LEED Gold standards for new public facilities over 10,000 square feet and major renovations. The county’s policy would also require all new buildings to be constructed with solar-ready design and achieve net-zero energy use “where feasible.”
Board member Rick Livingston, who made the motion to deny the recommendation, said the proposed SE Asphalt plant’s location in a “very residential area” off the Spartanburg Highway was incompatible with both the county’s comprehensive plan and East Flat Rock’s community plan.
From Mars Hill in the north to Rosman in the south, from Black Mountain in the east to Maggie Valley in the west, the Hellbender Regional Trail system would link major municipalities in the five-county French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization region through paths devoted to bicyclists and pedestrians.
Environmental advocates urged Asheville City Council to adopt a series of proposals to strengthen protections for Asheville’s urban forests.
“Folks are really starting to get weary of the pattern of hurricanes and extreme weather and are looking for more stable environments such as Western North Carolina,” says local real estate agent John Haynes, about clients seeking to move to the region from coastal states like Florida, New Jersey and Texas.
Asheville City Council will take a brief respite from conversations about policing and budgets to consider new standards for tree canopy preservation at its meeting of Tuesday, Aug. 25. Three public hearings will address different parts of the proposed standards.
With permission from the city, businesses with private parking lots can now convert 50% of their parking area to dining. To expand onto public sidewalks, businesses must be able to maintain 6 feet of clear space for diners and pedestrians.
Commission Chair Laura Hudson argued that the rules placed too much emphasis on tree protection and could become an untenable burden for developers. “If you jam too many requirements onto one small parcel, I think you’re going to kill the development altogether,” she said.
A bill that would have changed the distribution of Buncombe County’s controversial hotel tax to better benefit local government is likely dead until at least next year. The change would have reduced the share of room tax money to market and advertise Asheville as a tourist destination.
Two lawsuits filed in 2018, both of which reached final settlements on June 8, challenged several of the fees Asheville has used to raise money for repairs and updates to the water system. Together, the settlements could have the city pay nearly $2 million to dismiss claims that those fees were charged illegally and prevent the collection of $37 million in fees over the next five years.
The proposed general fund budget of nearly $335.65 million marks a 1.1% decrease from the current fiscal year’s $339.46 million total. To support those expenditures, the county would use more than $11.33 million of its fund balance, down roughly 23% from the $14.79 million in reserves spent this year.