While the country grapples with the ramifications of yet another school shooting, this time resulting in the deaths of 17 people in Parkland, Fla., Asheville City Council could pass a resolution on gun violence prevention at its Feb. 27 meeting.
The proposed resolution states that more than 150,000 students attending more than 170 primary and secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. It goes on to support a national ban on assault weapons: “The City of Asheville calls upon the United States Congress and state legislatures to prioritize the protection of students and school system employees and all city residents by all means necessary, including but not limited to enacting legislation in furtherance thereof beginning with a ban on the manufacturing, transferring and possession of assault weapons.”
City Council will consider three resolutions and proclamations at the meeting: one in memory of the Rev. Billy Graham, one proclaiming March 10 as “Zelda Fitzgerald Day” and one proclaiming March 19-25 as “Asheville Climate Week.”
State Rep. Chuck McGrady is slated to bring his presentation on a new study committee for water and sewer systems before City Council. McGrady, a Republican whose district includes northern Henderson County, has been making the rounds of local government boards recently. He spoke at the Hendersonville City Council on Feb. 6, at the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 20 (see “McGrady talks regional water systems at County Commission”), and at the Henderson County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 21.
McGrady is co-chairing the committee to explore incentives for regionalization of sewer and water systems. This move comes on the heels of a decision by Buncombe County’s Metropolitan Sewerage District in late December to deny a resolution that would have merged the district with the Cane Creek Water and Sewer District in Henderson County. It’s the latest turn in a long fight over local water systems, including a 2014 court decision that overruled a 2011 bill co-sponsored by McGrady to turn control of Asheville’s water system over to the MSD, and a 2016 decision that awarded ownership and control of Asheville’s water system to the city after a 2013 bill co-sponsored by McGrady transferred ownership of the municipal water system to the MSD.
Council will hear an update on the process for the Charlotte Street Innovation District, which was established in 2014 with the goal of improving infrastructure, including widening sidewalks and providing bicycle access. Assistant City Manager Cathy Ball will report on projects that have already been undertaken in the North Charlotte Street corridor, such as installation of flashing speed limit signs, and those that are planned, such as a new crosswalk at Broad and Baird streets.
A year ago, Asheville City Council approved an amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance on the process for Level III development review that effectively brings more potential developments, especially hotels, before Council for approval. The changes state that the following projects have to come to City Council for review: outside the Central Business District, developments 100,000 square feet or larger, with 50 or more residential units and hotel uses including short-term vacation rentals; inside the CBD, developments 100,000 square feet or larger, buildings 100 feet tall or taller, and hotel uses including short-term vacation rentals. The amendment also clarified that Level III development is a use that is only allowed in an expansion district as a conditional zoning application.
A report to be presented to City Council on Feb. 27 states that in the year since the zoning change, six applications have requested a rezoning to an expansion district conditional zone, and all six have been approved by Council.
Council will also receive the quarterly operating and capital budget reports and an update on the city’s strategic priorities, to which changes were made at the City Council retreat Feb. 15-16 (see “City Council prioritizes equity, environment, economy at annual retreat“).
No public hearings are scheduled.
Asheville City Council will take up a number of items on the consent agenda, including the following highlights from the Water Resources Department:
- A construction agreement for $4.3 million with T&K Utilities Inc. for work associated with the Fairview Area Water System Improvements Project.
- A construction agreement in the amount of $2.3 million with Buckeye Bridge LLC to lay pipe along Tunnel and Beaucatcher roads as part of the Neighborhood Enhancement Project of the Water Distribution Systems Project.
- A supplemental agreement with CDM Smith Inc. for $972,537 for the Water System Distribution Projects.
- A supplemental agreement with McGill Associates PA for $1.1 million for the Water System Distribution Projects.
- A supplemental agreement with W.K. Dickson for $838,635 for a waterline replacement project.
- A supplemental agreement with GHD Consulting Services Inc. for $226,644 to replace the roof at the Mills River water treatment plant.
- A supplemental agreement with Brown and Caldwell for $181,500 for a sodium bicarbonate feed system replacement project at the North Fork Water Treatment Plant.
Also on the consent agenda, Council will consider a budget amendment to accept $200,000 from the developer of The District, a mixed-use development on Fairview Road. When the project was approved in 2015, it included a condition that the property owner pay that amount to improve connectivity in the surrounding area. A check for that amount was received in March 2016, and staff have now nearly completed determining which improvements to make.
It’s getting close to the time of year for festivals, and in preparation, Council will decide whether to approve possession and consumption of malt beverages and/or unfortified wine at the following events: SoCon JamFest on March 4, Asheville City Market on Saturdays April 7-Dec. 15, Run for the Paws on April 22, Asheville City Soccer Club games from May-July, Brews and Bears on May 11, July 13 and Sept. 14, Asheville VeganFest on June 10 and Hola Asheville on June 23.
Council will hear comment from members of the public on items not previously discussed on Council’s agenda.
Asheville City Council meets at 5 p.m. in Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 70 Court Plaza, Asheville. The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.
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