Asheville City Council preview: Equality and Ingles

At its Feb. 22 meeting, the Asheville City Council faces two major issues — the passage of an equality resolution aimed at securing LGBT rights and the approval of the expansion of an Ingles on Smoky Park Highway.

The push for the equality resolution began with a Jan. 25 gathering of local clergy that included four Council members.

The resolution calls for the creation of a domestic partners registry, the addition of sexual orientation, gender and gender identity to the city’s employment discrimination clause, an endorsement of full civil marriage rights for same sex couples and an anti-bullying ordinance. Council member Gordon Smith, a supporter of the resolution, claims that over 1,200 people have signed their support to the resolution through a website set up to support it. A pre-meeting rally in support of the resolution will begin at 3:30 p.m. in Pack Square Park.

A staff report attached to the agenda notes that the city’s current employment discrimination policy covers sexual orientation and current policy covers the same rights against intimidation as an anti-bullying ordinance. As for the domestic partnership registry, staff suggest setting up a fee to defray costs, similar to other North Carolina cities that have such registries.

The Ingles grocery store expansion also before Council has attracted some controversy, as Ingles has proposed a project — in terms of parking space, lighting and deisgn — that don’t meet the city’s usual guidelines, and so must go before Council for an exception. The report on the Ingles expansion notes staff opposition to a number of design aspects Ingles is requesting, and suggests modification to the project before it is allowed to proceed. The Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods has announced its opposition.

The meeting begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, in Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall.

— David Forbes, senior news reporter


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