City Council to discuss ‘community cleanliness’

Asheville city seal

Many households mark the end of the winter months with a thorough spring cleaning, and Asheville City Council may be in a similar mood. Listed on the body’s agenda for Tuesday, March 22, is a presentation from Assistant City Manager Rachel Wood about Asheville’s “community cleanliness strategy.

The discussion comes two weeks after the Asheville Downtown Association released the results of its annual survey, in which respondents gave the city’s core a 2.2 out of 5 in terms of cleanliness. Cleanliness also ranked third among the local business community’s priorities, behind only homelessness and public safety.

Wood’s presentation lists a number of challenges for Asheville to maintain an attractive appearance. Hiring and retention for sanitation staff has proved difficult, and cleanup volunteering has decreased in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some short-term cleanup strategies are already underway, such as targeted litter sweeps in specific areas based on community requests. City staff members are also being temporarily reassigned to address litter and increase the frequency of trash pickup in Asheville parks.

As one long-term solution, the presentation floats the idea of a downtown business improvement district, an area where property owners would pay an additional tax to supplement services such as cleaning and security. The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority has also expressed interest in a BID to address community issues, particularly homelessness.

Asheville previously established a BID in 2012, but its board disbanded in 2014 after disagreements over its bylaws and proposed tax rate.

In other news

Council’s agenda includes a discussion of Memorial Stadium, although no documents were linked as of press time. As reported by the Citizen-Times, members of the historically Black East End/Valley Street neighborhood have criticized the city for choosing to expand the stadium’s field and seating instead of constructing a new track.

Two conditional zoning proposals will also be considered. The first would allow 218 multifamily units to be constructed along Julian Shoals Drive in South Asheville; the second would permit a mixed-used development with 49 residential units to be built at 427 Broadway near Montford. Both proposals have the approval of city staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Consent agenda and public comment

The consent agenda for the meeting contains 15 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:

  • Approval of $6.93 million contract with Fairview-based T.P. Howard Plumbing Co. to upgrade water distribution lines along Patton Avenue. According to a staff report, the new infrastructure will improve the water system’s capacity and reliability by using wider-diameter pipes.
  • A resolution authorizing City Manager Debra Campbell to apply for $8.8 million in grant funds from the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization. Projects that would be supported with the money include the replacement of 10 Asheville Rides Transit buses, improvements to Livingston Street and construction of the Swannanoa River Greenway.
  • A resolution objecting to portions of proposed U.S. Forest Service plans for the Nantahala and Pisgah national forests. The city joins Buncombe County in expressing concerns over the plan, particularly its approach toward protection of the Craggy Mountains and Big Ivy area.

The meeting will be livestreamed starting at 5 p.m. through Asheville’s public engagement hub and on the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public can also listen live by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code 4617.

Members of the public who wish to speak during the meeting must attend in person and sign up at the door; no live remote comment will be permitted. Those wanting to make a slide or PowerPoint presentation at the meeting must submit their materials to City Clerk Maggie Burleson at MBurleson@AshevilleNC.gov by noon Monday, March 21.

Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 4617; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilMar222022@PublicInput.com until 9 a.m. March 22. General comments for City Council can be sent at any time to AshevilleNCCouncil@AshevilleNC.gov.

The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.

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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the News Editor of Mountain Xpress, coordinating coverage of Western North Carolina's governments, community groups, businesses and environment. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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3 thoughts on “City Council to discuss ‘community cleanliness’

  1. Big Al

    Finally. Downtown has been a shithole since 2020. A good start to the “clean up” would be to stop pandering to activists, anarchists and panhandlers who pay no real taxes but get to tell the rest of us how the city should be governed. Or rather NOT governed.

  2. Scott Thompson

    If only the BCTDA had a fund to support “sanitizing” downtown so it doesn’t turn off tourists? Oh, darn, the hotel occupancy tax can only be used for marketing, not important infrastructure issues like how we support the homeless. Let’s see how fast that changes now that tourists are being scared away.

    Most Asheville residents I know avoid downtown during tourist season, which grows longer and stronger every year. The thing is, tourists don’t care about Asheville, the residents do, so the focus on tourism needs to stop.

  3. Shultz!

    Definitely should hire a consultant to figure it out, preferably one from out of town.

    (Sorry, I had to)

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