The Limestone Township model

It all started with a junkyard on Mills Gap Road. That was the impetus for citizens of Limestone Township — a section of Buncombe County lying south of Asheville and west of Fairview — to institute the zoning ordinance that, today, is the model for Buncombe County’s proposed plan.

Buncombe County is divided into 15 townships in all, and in 1979, the commissioners passed a resolution allowing townships to propose their own local zoning, subject to commissioners’ approval. Soon after, Limestone residents did just that.

So closely did county planners follow the Limestone ordinance in drafting their own plan, according to County Zoning Administrator Jim Coman, that “it would be better to ask what doesn’t [correspond to] Limestone’s ordinance” than what does. The county’s plan adds RU (rural-use), HI (heavy-industrial), and R-1M (residential with manufactured mobile homes) zones to the Limestone plan’s mostly residential framework.

“Zoning always [requires] a negative catalyst” to be instituted, says Coman, adding, “Limestone’s zoning has been in effect for 17 years, with few controversies — and few amendments.”

But Nathan Ramsey of Citizens for Property Rights says it’s not a fair comparison: “Limestone’s development patterns were already determined when it was zoned. And it’s much more urbanized than the rest of the county, which is mostly rural.”

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