After lengthy public hearings, Asheville City Council members passed three controversial requests during a long Tuesday evening meeting Dec. 9. They approved apartment plans for Hazel Mill Road in West Asheville and on Thompson Street and Stoner Road near Biltmore Village but postponed a decision for a Fairview Road plan at the developer’s request. They also adopted changes to city ordinances that will allow for significant increases in residential density in a variety of commercial and one residential type of zoning district.
Several residents came out to comment on changes to the Unified Development Ordinance amendment that would allow for denser residential development.
City planner Blake Esselstyn outlined the amendment, saying it would encourage more residential and mixed-use development. Asheville lacks sufficient affordable housing, and this plan tries to address that problem by allowing for denser populations, he reported.
Council member Cecil Bothwell said he was “quite satisfied” with the proposal, calling it a “workable, rational” plan to increase population density.
But some residents questioned what the city considers “affordable” housing in the first place, saying during the public hearing that many people make less than the median income and more affordable housing is needed fast. Another said the plan was a good “first step” but not enough to help the low-income population.
Affordable housing advocate Council member Gordon Smith reaffirmed that Council is “committed to economic mobility for all of its citizens,” and “without affordable housing, that’s not available.” He went on to say that many of the creative people living in Asheville can’t afford much of the housing in Asheville and will start moving outside of the city — a problem he says the UDO amendment will help address.
“A healthy, vibrant Asheville is going to have a healthy socioeconomic diversity,” Smith said.
The UDO changes passed unanimously.
Council also heard from residents on and near Hazel Mill Road off Patton Avenue regarding the proposed White Oak Grove Apartments — a 104-unit residential development that required a conditional zoning change that would only allow for 57 units on the property.
Because of a valid protest petition filed by residents, approval by a supermajority of Council was needed to move the plan forward. Mayor Esther Manheimer recused herself from the proceedings (a lawyer in the firm she works for represents one of the parties involved).
City staff said the development complied with city standards and would include making 10 percent of the units as affordable housing. Developer Bob Grasso said the project fit in line with what Council has approved in the past and encouraged them to accept the proposal.
Opposition for the development expressed major concerns with traffic on the narrow Hazel Mill Road and requested infrastructure changes like sidewalks where there currently are none.
“The neighborhood is not opposed to change,” says Bridget Nelson. “We’re in favor of smart change.” Nelson said she couldn’t see how this development qualified as smart change.
“It appears to me that we absolutely have to build those sidewalks if we approve this development,” Bothwell said.
Grasso noted his commitment to $15,000 toward sidewalk infrastructure, and a plan to provide bus passes to encourage multimodal transportation and help reduce traffic congestion.
Council passed the conditional zoning on a 6-0 vote (Manheimer had recused herself), with a separate motion to give Hazel Mill sidewalks priority within the city budget.
After a closed session just before 8 p.m., Council returned to consider a conditional use permit for River Mill Loft — a development of 254 residential units and 4,000 square feet of commercial space.
City Planning Director Alan Glines said that staff recommended approval, adding that “not every project can be a complete answer to every community all of the time.”
Developer Pace Burk said he wants the development to make a big impact and clean up the area. But area residents expressed concerns with traffic influx, a lack of infrastructure and a low percentage of affordable housing.
Council approved the Lofts project unanimously, but Council member Chris Pelly said he would like to see the developer start building relationships with the surrounding community.
During the meeting, Council also adopted the consent agenda, heard a presentation of the external audit of the Fiscal Year 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, voted to permanently close a portion of Westover Alley adopted the 2015 Legislative Agenda for the City of Asheville.
Here’s Council’s full “action agenda” (a list of all actions taken at the meeting, available online the day after each meeting):
December 9, 2014
The action agenda is intended to provide the reader with an overview of the council meeting and any decisions that were made. It does not provide action on ceremonial or non-substantive matters.
THIS ACTION AGENDA IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. Authority to carry out actions related to any council decision should be obtained through normal departmental procedure.
Please call the City Clerk’s office at 259-5601 if you have any questions.
Present: Mayor Esther E. Manheimer, Presiding; Vice-Mayor Marc H. Hunt; Councilman Cecil Bothwell; Councilman Jan
B. Davis (excused from meeting at 9:30 p.m.); Councilman Christopher A. Pelly; Councilman Gordon D. Smith;
Councilwoman Gwen C. Wisler; City Manager Gary Jackson; City Attorney Robin T. Currin; and City Clerk Magdalen
ITEM AND SUMMARY ACTION
Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract with CH Security for the security
services in the City’s parking garages. Adopted Unanimously
Resolution adopting the 2015 City Council Meeting Schedule, including the City Council annual
retreat on January 30 & 31, 2015, beginning 8:30 a.m. in the Banquet Hall of the U.S. Cellular
Center. Adopted Unanimously
Resolution authorizing a public hearing to be held on January 13, 2015, to consider an economic
development incentive grant for Linamar. Adopted Unanimously
Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a construction agreement with Moore and
Son Inc. for the Beaucatcher Tank Waterline Improvement Area Project. Adopted Unanimously
Budget amendment, in the amount of $372,950, from savings in other capital projects that were
completed under budget, for the Beaucatcher Tank Waterline Improvement Area Project. Adopted Unanimously
Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract with Carolina Cornerstone
Construction for renovation work at the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center. Adopted Unanimously
Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract with American Seating Company
for the replacement of the McCormick Field seating. Adopted Unanimously
Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract with Waste Pro of North Carolina
Inc., to provide bulk container refuse and recycling collection services at City facilities. Adopted Unanimously
Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract with Field Construction
Services, Inc. for the installation of a new irrigation system on the back nine holes at the
Asheville Municipal Golf Course. Adopted Unanimously
Budget amendment, in the amount of $7,786, from the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human
Services, for Senior Center General Purpose Funding for Fiscal Year 2014-15. Adopted Unanimously
Resolution authorizing the City Manager to accept a donation from the Asheville Downtown
Association of the stage canopy at Pack Square Park. Adopted Unanimously
Technical budget amendment in each of the City’s annual operating funds to appropriate
from restricted fund balance the required budget authorization for prior year contracts,
purchase orders, and other carry-over appropriations that rolled forward to Fiscal Year 2014-15. Adopted Unanimously
Resolution authorizing the City Manager to execute a Supplemental Utility Agreement with
N.C. Dept. of Transportation for the relocation and adjustment of municipally owned waterlines
within the I-26 / NC 280 (Airport Road) interchange project area. Adopted Unanimously
Presentation of the external audit of the Fiscal Year 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Motion to Adopt Report
Quarterly Financial Update Heard Update
Public hearing to consider an amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance regarding
residential development density standards in certain commercial zoning district and one
residential zoning district. Adopted Unanimously
Public hearing to permanently close a portion of Westover Alley. Adopted Unanimously
Public hearing to consider the conditional zoning of property off Fairview Road from Urban
Village District to Urban Place District/Conditional Zoning for the development of a mixed
use project containing apartments and retail, with modifications to parking standards found
in Section 7-8-26 of the Unified Development Ordinance. Continued to 1-27-15
Public hearing to consider the conditional zoning of 275 and 281 Hazel Mill Road from RM-8
Residential Multi-Family Medium Density District to RM-16 Residential Multi-Family High
Density District/Conditional Zoning for White Oak Grove Apartments on Hazel Mill Road and Adopted 6-0;
Road. Manheimer Recused
Public hearing to consider a conditional use permit for River Mills Loft, located off of Thompson
Street, for a new project of 254 multi-family residential units, with request for a modification to
the setback requirements, a modification for the width of a portion of sidewalk in the project,
and variances to the design and operational standards. Adopted Unanimously
Continuation of public hearing to consider a conditional zoning for Greymont Village
Apartments, located on Sardis Road, from Industrial District and Commercial Industrial
District to RM-16 Residential Multi-Family High Density District/Conditional Zoning for the
construction of a multi-family apartment development. – Applicant has requested
continuance until January 13, 2015. Continued to 1-13-15
Resolution adopting the Legislative Agenda. Adopted Unanimously