Quick facts

At 10 p.m. on a long Tuesday night, Asheville City Council members were dreaming about sidewalks. The Unified Development Ordinance requires developers to build them for new projects. And Council had two big ones to consider the night of July 27: The Asheville Mall expansion and the redevelopment of the existing Lowe’s facility by Dreamland Partners.

That evening, Council held public hearings for each project — the mall-expansion hearing taking four hours — during which the sidewalk issue was just one of many concerns.

“Will the [new] Asheville Mall sidewalk connect to the Dreamland sidewalk?” Vice Mayor Ed Hay had asked city staff earlier, during Council’s formal session. After staff replied that the two should connect — since the new sidewalks are supposed to run from property line to property line along South Tunnel Road — Hay declared, “I’d like to make sure that’s the case.”

The Dreamland connection will extend the sidewalk almost completely down South Tunnel Road. The project, when completed, will add 54,000 square feet of retail space and house three major tenants — possibly Barnes and Noble — as well as three smaller tenants, according to Dreamland landscape architect Clay Mooney.

Mooney told Council that Dreamland Partners is willing to comply with the sidewalk requirement — if the realities of installing a sidewalk on the property don’t interfere with a series of highly technical federal and state permits, already issued, regarding floodplain protection (Haw Creek runs adjacent to the property and the Swannanoa River is nearby). However, for similar reasons, Mooney and other Dreamland representatives asked Council to drop its requirement that Dreamland also extend a sidewalk along Swannanoa River Road.

After conferring with city staff, Council members agreed to — as Chuck Cloninger put it — “punt” on the issue of the Swannanoa River Road sidewalk, which he noted isn’t practical, due to runoff concerns and the lack of a curb and gutter on Dreamland’s side of the road. Staff also noted that Council couldn’t require Dreamland to extend a sidewalk all the way down Tunnel Road, to Swannanoa River Road: The company doesn’t own the Dreamland Convenience Store, located on the corner of Tunnel and Swannanoa River roads.

Cloninger made a motion that Council approve Dreamland’s conditional-use permit, which allows the redevelopment of the property, provided specific conditions are met. For example, Dreamland must provide a more clearly marked walkway or crosswalk from an existing bus stop on South Tunnel Road to the facility itself. Cloninger’s motion passed, 6-0 (O. T. Tomes was absent).

Manufactured-home overlay OK’d

Any opposition to a zoning change on Mockingbird Lane was, apparently, worn down by the length of City Council’s July 27 formal session: It was almost 10:30 p.m. before Council considered a request that 15 lots near Richmond Hill Inn be granted a manufactured-home overlay. By that time, only a couple of the applicants remained. Long since departed were the opponents, who had also protested the proposal at the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting earlier this month.

A manufactured-home overlay, City Planner Carl Ownbey explained, allows manufactured homes in a residential district, provided the relevant density standards are adhered to — as well as a number of other conditions on the appearance and size of the manufactured homes. For example, only one home per lot can be installed, and each must have a permanent foundation, be at least 1,000 square feet in size, and have a pitched roof that mimics those of conventional, built-on-site homes.

The density standard on Mockingbird Lane is two units per acre, since all the lots are zoned RS-2 (residential, single-family), Ownbey noted.

Council members voted unanimously to approve the proposal, on a motion made by Cloninger, seconded by Barbara Field.

$10,000 for Big South

West Asheville resident June Lamb wanted to know, “Could you please explain the reasoning for this [money] coming from the [city’s] contingency fund, when we’re so short of funds?”

Lamb asked the question at Council’s July 27 formal session, quizzing City Manager Jim Westbrook about Council’s proposed $10,000 donation to the year 2000 Big South Basketball Tournament.

Westbrook replied that the donation is the same as one made last year and is based on a request from UNCA, which is a member of the Big South division. Council can’t offer tournament organizers a discount on rental of the Civic Center and other associated costs, but it can provide funds as a co-sponsor of the event. Big South, Westbrook pointed out, brings increased concession revenues to the Civic Center and increased sales-tax revenues to the city.

After hearing from Lamb, Council approved the donation as part of its consent agenda.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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