City Council is poised to take the next step on the road to the bond referendum at its regular meeting on July 26. During the new business portion of the meeting, Council will hear a report on a survey of city voters’ attitudes toward the bond. Council will present the formal bond orders (which it submitted for review to the Local Government Commission on July 18) and will set a public hearing on the bond referendum for its August 9 meeting.
Council’s current bond proposal totals $74 million worth of debt, $32 million of which would go to transportation projects, $17 million to parks and recreation facilities and $25 million to affordable housing. If Council decides to proceed with the bond referendum at its August 9 meeting, the bond question will appear on the general election ballots for city voters on November 8. Voters will be able to vote on each of the bond categories separately.
Notable items in the consent agenda include:
- Acceptance of Hospital Drive (built in 2011) as a city street
- Application for state grant funding of $100,000 to purchase body-worn cameras for police officers; if awarded, the funding will finance the purchase of 60 body-worn cameras.
- Application for an NCDOT grant to conduct a greenway feasibility study in East Asheville for the Swannanoa River Corridor Greenway
- Acceptance of a construction bid of $724,980 from Carolina Cornerstone Construction for the renovation of a city-owned historic structure at 14 Riverside Drive to serve as a visitor center for the River Arts District. The project will be funded through a mix of Tourism Product Development grants and city funds.
- Authorization of a design contract with H&M Constructors for the relocation of the Parks Maintenance facility at 338 Hilliard Ave. to city-owned property at 75 Shelburne Rd.; 338 Hilliard Ave. will be redeveloped for affordable housing
- Addition of a City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6 and cancellation of the Sept. 13 meeting
The Development Services Department will report on the city’s Homestay short-term rental program, which City Council expanded on Nov. 18 last year. Since the new rules went into effect, the city has received 93 applications for Homestay permits. Though initially most permit applications were from North Asheville, a memo to Council explains that a significant number of applications have been received from West and East Asheville.
According to the memo, “Since the adoption of the changes to the Homestay Ordinance, the City has opened 68 cases that have resulted in active enforcement for violation of the Homestay Ordinance or operation of a short-term rental where it is prohibited by zoning district.”
A second report will provide an update on the Mayor’s Development Task Force, which was created in 2014 to “to identify the most significant barriers to the development process and to make recommendations for improving sound growth and development” in the city. Since its last update to Council, the Task Force has created a Development Services Advisory Group, which meets monthly to share customer feedback with the Development Services department. The report will outline various process improvements and initiatives.
Council will hear public testimony on an application for a land-use incentive grant from Biotat LLC, which seeks to develop 72 residential rental apartments on a 3.71 acre site at 29 Oak Hill Rd. According to scoring criteria that evaluate housing projects in terms of their potential to provide locationally efficient, long-term affordable housing, the project qualifies for a property tax abatement of $302,617.86 over 9 1/2 years.
A second public hearing concerns a request by Ingles Markets for signage at the company’s 863 Brevard Rd. location, which is currently being redeveloped. In a memo, city planning staff recommend that the company reconsider its proposal to “employ more creative techniques for identification that minimizes advertising/branding” for achieving the company’s goals.
After its consideration of the bond referendum, as outlined above, Council will review applications for the following city boards and commissions and determine which, if any, candidates it will interview:
- African American Heritage Commission
- Citizens-Police Advisory Committee
- Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee
- Multimodal Transportation Commission
- Neighborhood Advisory Committee
- Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy & the Environment
- Tree Commission
Asheville City Council will meet at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26 in Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall. The full agenda and supporting documents are available here.