In a 6-1 vote on Tuesday, March 8, Asheville City Council approved a new “transformation development” incentives policy which provides economic incentives designed to encourage high density, environmentally sustainable, affordable housing developments. Council member Bill Russell voted against the measure.
The policy implements a points system: 10 points represents an economic incentive equivalent to one year of property taxes as well as a 10 percent reduction in permit and fee charges, for example. LEED Bronze Certification would net a development 10 points, with an additional 10 points awarded for each level of LEED certification with a maximum of up to 40 points for LEED Platinum.
The percentage of affordable housing units in a development could also net a reduction, with 10 points being awarded for every 10 percent of a development’s units that have rents at 80 percent of medium income or below, with a possible maximum of 40 points for 40 percent affordable housing.
After a property owner expressed concerns about limited access to her property, Council also decided to delay action until its April 12 meeting on a rights-of-way closure related to the Mondford Commons development. The city cannot remove one access without providing a new one, but several members of Council worried that a new route might be inferior to the current approach; without more information, going forward with the closures would be unwise, Council members determined.
Also taken up by Council was an ordinance that would require pawnbrokers and other “second-hand” dealers to submit their daily transactions to law enforcement electronically. Currently, only pawnbrokers must submit such information, and paper records are kept; law enforcement picks up the records each workday. Under the new ordinance, businesses such as antique stores and used record shops would be expected to submit information on any purchases from customers. Garage sales, flea markets, and nonprofit thrift stores that accept donations would not affected.
Several local business owners expressed concerns over the proposal, and Council ultimately decided to postpone action on the measure until its April 26 meeting and allow time for changes to be made to the ordinance as well as to get more feedback from local business owners.
A motion made by Council member Bill Russell to reduce the number of early voting sites for this years upcoming city elections to only one was defeated 4-3; Mayor Terry Bellamy and Council Member Jan Davis joining Russell in supporting the measure. Vice Mayor Brownie Newman then made a motion to add four additional polling places, citing the increase in the number of early voters in 2009 compared with 2007. Newman ultimately withdrew his motion to allow time for clarification over the cost of the new polling places. Council will take the issue you up at its meeting on April 12.