Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Nov. 2 meeting
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The Buncombe County Commissioners had a short meeting planned for Election Day, Nov. 2. Topping the light agenda was Diane Smoyer’s request to rezone her 0.9 acre residential lot at 2956 Hendersonville Road for commercial use.
The vacant parcel sits just north of the Oak Park subdivision and its community park, and about 25 neighborhood residents were on hand to oppose the change.
"It's going to take away from the aesthetic value of the park, and it's going to increase traffic," predicted Doug Clark, a sentiment echoed by several other residents.
"Oak Park is a good place to live, and we want it to remain as such and not be turned to commercial," asserted Jean Hendrix, noting that she's lived in the neighborhood for 57 years. Hendrix pleaded with the commissioners to "please leave Oak Park as is."
Smoyer, meanwhile, explained that she wanted to use the land to build a small office building that she said would have little impact on either the park or the neighborhood.
"In all due respect, I do appreciate the park," said Smoyer, adding that she would install a fence or some other kind of buffer if it would help ease the neighbors’ concerns. "I want to enhance it, not take away from it," Smoyer emphasized.
She also maintained that the property isn’t suitable for residential development, because it's too close to the busy commercial corridor.
"Who would want to raise children on Highway 25? How should I utilize this land?" asked Smoyer.
The commissioners didn't have an answer for her, but they did make their position clear, vetoing the request on a 4-0 vote. (Board Chair David Gantt was absent; "He's in court — defending someone else, not himself," joked Vice Chair Bill Stanley.)
Commissioner Carol Peterson explained that preserving the park’s integrity was the biggest factor in determining her vote. "When you think of community and a good residential area, it's so important that folks have a place to gather," she noted before making a motion to deny the request.
Commissioner Holly Jones agreed, adding that since county policy doesn't currently allow conditional zoning, changing the designation to commercial would open the door to a potential "laundry list of things I don't think are appropriate on that lot," with no way to ensure that the land was used only for an office building.
"Without that type of discernment within commercial-zoning districting that we have right now, I do not see how this is compatible with rezoning," Jones explained before seconding Peterson's motion.
Staff had also recommended denying the change, although the Planning Board had favored approving it.
Federal funds to assist struggling households
After those deliberations, most members of the public left the chamber. But before adjourning to attend election-night gatherings, the commissioners also voted to accept a $400,000 award from the federal Community Development Block Grant program. County staff will administer the money, which will help Buncombe residents with incomes less than half of the median figure for the area rehabilitate their homes.
In other business, the board heard a presentation by Melinda Roberts of the local Cooperative Extension office on the county's involvment in the statewide 10% Campaign, which encourages Tar Heel businesses and residents to commit to buying at least 10 percent of their food from local farms.
The commissioners also approved a proclamation declaring November "Adoption Awareness Month."
— Jake Frankel can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 115, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.