QUALITY CONTROL: Two pollutants make up the bulk of the air quality monitoring oversight by the NC Department of Environmental Quality: ozone and fine particulates (PM2.5). From Bryson City to Lenoir, there are 11 ozone monitoring sites and five sites for PM2.5. The WNC Air Quality Agency conducts monitoring operations in Buncombe County, which also includes an urban air toxics monitor at A-B Tech. New this year is a sulfur dioxide monitor near the Duke Energy Progress plant in Skyland. Image from  Google, mapped by NCDEQ

Air apparent: monitoring air quality in the mountains

We all have to breathe to live, and the good news is that here in Western North Carolina, the quality of the air we all share is much better than it was just a few years ago. Across North Carolina, government employees are monitoring air quality and the associated health risks to make sure they stay within specified legal parameters. Meanwhile, citizen volunteers are also collecting data and working to make more information available to the public.

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will hear presentations for two grant requests and vote on an economic development incentive package during its meeting on Tuesday, April 18.

$7 million in grants, incentives on commissioners’ agenda

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners may be in for a long night when it confronts a full agenda at its Tuesday, April 18, meeting. Commissioners will hear presentations for two grant requests totaling $6.2 million, and consider approval of an economic development incentive package worth $881,960. Commissioners will also hold public hearings on two […]

DIRTY BUSINESS: CompostNow offers weekly pickup of compostable waste for residential customers. Once a month, customers get back a delivery of finished compost equal to half the weight of the material they collected. The company now serves about 100 area customers and hopes to triple that amount by the end of the year. Image courtesy of CompostNow

Local companies lead the way as Asheville considers composting service

Asheville and Buncombe County have worked for several years on plans to reduce the area’s solid waste stream, but implementing “pay as you throw” and municipal composting programs remain in the realm of good ideas rather than reality or even future plans. But the city says it hasn’t given up on initiatives to divert more waste away from the landfill.

The roof of Asheville City Hall.

Council to puzzle over district election survey results

Asheville City Council will consider the results of a poll that show 54 percent of city voters support keeping elections for the Council as they are now — and the same percentage would vote yes to change them if asked by a referendum. Council meets at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11 at 5 p.m. At 3 p.m., Council will hold its final work session dedicated to the 2017-18 fiscal year budget.

MOVING FORWARD: Asheville City Council voted March 28 to solicit requests for proposals for design services for city-owned property at Haywood Street and Page Avenue. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Council vote could mark new phase in struggle over ‘Pit of Despair’

Asheville City Council voted unanimously to accept the recommendations presented by a volunteer citizen panel as the basis for soliciting design services on on Tuesday, March 28. But the community vision presented by the Haywood Street Advisory Team leaves a lot of room for interpretation — and possibly for future controversy about the long-debated best uses for the site.

Funding applicants present to the Housing and Community Development Committee on March 24. Photo by Kari Barrows

City Council subcommitt­ee reviews nonprofit funding requests

Nonprofit organizations made their best pitch to City Council’s Housing and Community Development Committee for a share of federal and city funds for the 2017-18 fiscal year at a day-long meeting on Friday, March 24. Some left happy, while others expressed dissatisfaction with a process they said favored established city partners who had received funding in prior years.

City Council will hear a report on the conclusions of a community visioning process as the next step on Haywood Street parcels. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Di-vision? City Council to hear report on Haywood Street property on March 28

Signs of spring: the city considers its budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and citizens amass their forces to resume the fight over the fate of city-owned land on Haywood Street and Page Avenue. Asheville City Council will meet on Tuesday, March 28 to consider these and other matters. The budget meeting will take place at 3 p.m. in Council Chambers, with the formal meeting commencing at 5 p.m.