Buncombe County Commissioner K. Ray Bailey, who cast the deciding vote to delay an endorsement of a plan for the future I-26 connector at the board’s Tuesday night meeting, has now called for a special meeting to resolve the matter—and he’s got the support to do it. The meeting will be at noon next Tuesday, Dec. 23.
“I did it so that we can make a decision,” Bailey told Xpress. “There were a couple of questions I had that have been answered.”
Bailey’s call for a special meeting was backed by Commissioner Carol Peterson and Vice Chair Bill Stanley, who voted against a delay on Tuesday. The two said the board had enough information to make a decision and the matter had been delayed often in the past.
Chair David Gantt told Xpress that he was personally against holding a special meeting, but “three commissioners want it, so we’ll do it.”
At Tuesday’s regular county board meeting, Bailey, Gantt, and Commissioner Holly Jones favored a delay so the board would have more time to consider an alternative route, known as 4b, brought forward by the Asheville Design Center. The alternative is intended to separate local and interstate traffic while resulting in less land disruption. Design center planners asserted at the meeting that the N.C. Department of Transportation was still assessing the cost and environmental impact of that alternative, and that any decision before those results came in wouldn’t be “comparing apples to apples,” in the words of Design Center Chairman Alan McGuinn. The cost of the 4b alternative might also be less than currently estimated by the DOT, McGuinn said.
Bailey indicated at the Tuesday meeting that “4b doesn’t do a whole lot for me. But we need to look and make sure we’re making the right decision” and that he was unclear about DOT’s schedule and what they wanted from the board. However, he declined to tell Xpress which alternative he favors.
“I’m not ready to reveal that yet,” he said.
— David Forbes, staff writer