City Council to consider packed agenda in last meeting of 2016

Asheville City Hall. Photo by Virginia Daffron

With a consent agenda that literally runs from A to Z, reports on topics both hot and not, public hearings including a request for city affordable housing funds for an apartment project that displaced 55 families from a Skyland mobile home park and much more, Asheville City Council’s agenda for Tuesday, Dec. 13 is packed. Council last met on Nov. 8; the Dec. 13 meeting will be Council’s final session in 2016.

Proclamations

Council will vote on a resolution against discrimination and intimidation. The town of Weaverville and Buncombe County recently approved similar resolutions staking a position against hate crimes, threats and intimidation.

Consent agenda

Council will vote on an extensive consent agenda that includes, among other items:

  • A resolution formally certifying the passage of $74 million in general obligation bonds
  • The 2017 City Council meeting schedule
  • Wording changes to the Water Resources department’s policies; fees and charges manual; and design and construction manual
  • Donation of original film of the 1921 film Conquest of Canaan, shot in Asheville, to the Library of Congress
  • Amendments to the Housing Trust Fund policy that outlines priorities and policies for affordable housing trust fund loans
  • Sale of 16 acres owned by the city in West Asheville, near the intersection of Pisgah View and Deaverview Roads, to Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity for the purpose of developing 101 units of housing affordable to families earning 80 percent or less of area median income; the city will finance the entire purchase price of $458,300 at 0 percent interest.
  • A franchise agreement with electric vehicle shuttle service Slidr

Presentations and reports

From an auditor with Cherry Bekaert LLP, Council will hear the results of the firm’s audit of city finances for Fiscal Year 2016. The audit produced an unmodified or “clean” result, with no deficiencies in the city’s internal financial controls.

Under the category of “updates,” Council will hear reports on the recent fires in Western North Carolina; progress toward the strategic priorities of City Council; the quarterly financial report for the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2017; the community visioning process for city-owned properties located at 68-76 Haywood St. and 33-37 Page Ave.; and the city’s homestay short term rental program, which was expanded on Nov. 17 last year.

Council will also hear a report from the Accessory Dwelling Unit task force, which examined the possibility of expanding the city’s homestay short-term rental program to ADUs. For more information on the task force and its planned report, see ADU task force recommendations clouded by process concerns.

Public hearings

Developers for the proposed Skyland Exchange apartment complex in South Asheville will make a case for receiving tax and fee abatements under the city’s Land Use Incentive Grant program. Of the 290 units planned, ten percent will be  designated as affordable housing for those earning 80 percent or less of area median income. The request could generate some tense discussion, since Hathaway Development’s plans led in June to the displacement of 55 families who lived in a mobile home park on the site. At an emotional hearing before Council, those residents explained the impact of the loss of their close-knit community and affordable rents would have on their families (see Xpress, Council approves South Asheville apartment complex, expresses regret, June 14).

According to a staff memo, if awarded, the incentive package will be worth $528,171 over three years, which equates to a $18,213 subsidy per affordable unit ($6,071 subsidy per unit per year).

A second public hearing will consider a proposed rezoning of seven parcels along the eastern side of Asheland Avenue to Central Business District. In a staff report, planning staff explain that rezoning on the western side of Asheland Avenue was also considered during the current rezoning process, but the city decided to hold off on rezoning those parcels for now.

New business

Council will consider upgrades to Pritchard Park estimated to cost around $230,000. Pinnacle Landscapes LLC was the low bidder. In a memo, Parks & Recreation Department Director Roderick Simmons details the proposed changes:

The landscape of Pritchard Park has gradually declined over the last 15 years since it was initially constructed. There is a need to address security by providing additional lighting, more regulation signs and a landscape that increases visibility (highlighted in the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design report by the Asheville Police Department staff dated 9/9/14). The health of the existing trees and landscape beds have declined and will be improved via air spading the compacted soils, providing master arborist care for all of the existing trees, installation of an irrigation system and an ornamental fence to protect the landscape. The appearance of the park will be improved with attractive landscape plantings, additional ornamental boulders for seating, stone pavers, decorative tiles for the columns and a new drinking fountain and benches. There will only be modest repairs to the existing park concrete sidewalks and brick walls. Portions of the park will remain open to the public during the construction of the park but will be necessary to close some areas of the park periodically.

Council will consider allocating $4,000 to support the Asheville Buncombe Preschool Planning Collaborative, a partnership established to explore expanding access to quality preschool programming for 3- and 4-year-olds in Asheville and Buncombe County. Other project underwriters include the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and the Buncombe County Partnership for Children.

As planning for the I-240 connector project advances, most recently with the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s selection of Alternative 4B for the connector route, the city expects the need for evaluation of design alternatives and features to exceed the capacity and expertise of the city’s Transportation Department. Thus, Council will consider a proposal to hire a consultant with skills in “roadway design, pedestrian and bike connectivity and accessibility, stormwater mitigation, noise barriers and retaining wall design and traffic simulation,” among others.

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners recently allocated $10,000 for advancing a project to honor the contributions of African-Americans; City Council will be asked to do the same. According to a memo from Mayor Esther Manheimer, the total amount of $20,000, if approved, will be used “to fund a facilitated planning and visioning process to develop a project that will commemorate African-American heritage in Asheville and Buncombe County.”

Council will consider applicants for seats on the city’s Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee.

Asheville City Council will meet at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 13 in Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall. The full agenda, with supporting documents, can be found here.

 

 

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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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