Buncombe Commissioners to vote for new vice chair, discuss zoning additions

Nonprofit agencies will make their case for funding from Buncombe County's upcoming budget for Fiscal Year 2018. A total of 46 nonprofits are asking for an aggregate of almost $11 million.

At the Tuesday, Dec. 1 Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting, the commissioners will vote for a new vice chair of the Board — and also decide whether to amend the county zoning map by adding zoning to unincorporated areas.

Public hearings for new zonings

Considering an amendment to the Zoning Map of Buncombe County, the Board will hear recommendations for three separate instances of added zoning to unincorporated areas in Buncombe County.

The first set of recommendations, approved by both the Planning Board and by county staff, is to add an R-3 residential district and steep slope/high elevation overlay district to an area off of Baird Cove Road, bordering Woodfin and between Asheville and Weaverville.

R-3 is the least restrictive residential zone, allowing for single-family and multifamily units, duplexes and mobile or manufactured homes — with manufactured home parks allowed under conditional use.

The steep slope/high elevation overlay is used in areas over 2,500 feet above sea level and/or in areas having a natural slope of 35 percent or greater. This overlay involves special consideration for development and is intended to limit the intensity of development, preserve the viewshed and protect the county’s natural resources.

The property already consists of residential lots, stick-built homes and manufactured homes — and the closest area of Buncombe County zoning is also labeled R-3.

The next section under consideration is for several small properties to be zoned R-1 residential — for single-family homes — and a steep slope overlay for seven of the nine separate properties.

One chunk of the rezonings straddles between the borders of Weaverville and Woodfin at Leisure Mountain Road. The next few properties lie along Dry Ridge Road, Beaverbrook Court and Robinhood Road, near the Country Club of Asheville. And the last zoning lies on Hillview Road, in the Haw Creek area of Northeast Asheville.

The last of the zoning considerations is an employment district on the border of Asheville and I-26, across from the Asheville Regional Airport.

According to the county’s zoning ordinance, an employment district is “intended to provide appropriately located sites for employment concentrations, primarily for office uses, industrial uses, storage and warehousing and wholesale trade.”

The county staff recommendation cites that “the subject properties consist of existing rental/sales and service, warehousing, self-storage, nightclub, small scale commercial uses, vacant land and a church” and that “the majority of property to the east and south consists of single-family residences located within Henderson County.”

“Property to the north is developed as a strip shopping center and … property to the west is zoned PS (fairgrounds),” county staff wrote.

Both the Planning Board and staff recommended these zonings be approved.

Election of vice chair

Every year, the Board must vote for a vice chair on the first Tuesday of December.

Currently, Commissioner Joe Belcher holds this seat, and Clerk to the Board Kathy Hughes explained that she doesn’t know who the Board will choose for the new year.

With no additional information listed on the agenda, this item will remain a surprise until Tuesday.

Reimbursement for A-B Tech construction

Commissioners will then review a resolution establishing intent to reimburse the county for the money it spends on improvements to A-B Tech’s Rhododendron Building.

“The County presently intends … to finance all or a portion of the costs of the project with proceeds of tax-exempt obligations,” reads the resolution. “And [the county] reasonably expects to execute and deliver its tax-exempt obligations to finance or to reimburse itself for all or a portion of the costs.”

The project total is expected to cost $7 million.

Alexander land conservation easement

The Agricultural Advisory Board and the Planning Department will ask the county to help fund a conservation easement at Ridgeview Farms in Alexander.

Ridgeview Farms is a designated North Carolina Century Farm, meaning it has been owned by a single family for 100 years or more. The 115-acre farm consists of 84 acres of pasture, 20 acres of cropland and 7 acres of woodland.

According to the agenda information, “The easement would permanently protect [the farm],” and with $870,000 already donated or granted for its protection, “the $37,500 in [requested] county dollars [would] cover transaction costs.”

A conservation easement “is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization or public agency,” reads a handout from buncombecounty.org. “In the agreement, the landowner promises to keep the land in its natural condition without extensive disturbance, and the conservation organization or public agency is granted the right to enforce the covenants of the agreement and to monitor the property.”

Conservation agreements enable landowners to preserve their land, maintain ownership of it and usually benefit from significant tax savings or other financial incentives, reads a packet from North Carolina Land Trusts.

Board appointments

Taylor Foss, Susanne Deferie and Chris Champlin are up to be reappointed to the Economic Development Coalition; Commissioners Joe Belcher and Ellen Frost are up for reappointment to the Metropolitan Sewerage District.

Other appointments are for the Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee (two vacancies), the Audit Committee (three vacancies) and the Riverfront Development Coalition (one vacancy).

The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 4:30 p.m., on the third floor of the county building at 200 College Street.

To view the full agenda, click here.

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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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