Appointing a new county attorney, $2 million to design a “life safety tower” on the courthouse and bracing for the coming flu season all await the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Tuesday.
Word came earlier this month that long-time county attorney Joe Connolly, who has occupied the post for more than 20 years, will step down. County staff then narrowed down multiple applicants for the job, and the board interviewed them in closed session. Now, commissioners will choose Connolly’s successor. The county has faced multiple high-profile lawsuits in the last few years, including one over the controversial Parkside land sale, another regarding a dispute over the city of Asheville’s water system, and one revolving around its zoning ordinance. Except for the water suit, the county has come out on the losing end.
The county is also pressed for courthouse space, a problem that has vexed staff for some time, as the economic downturn has left resources more scarce than before. At the same time, operating the courts is a fundamental task of the county, and judges can order them to find more space if necessary, regardless of cost. The commissioners will vote on one proposal: a life safety tower that would add two new exits and open up the top five floors of the courthouse. Those floors have been relegated to storage space in recent years due to the difficulty of adding adequate fire escape routes.
If approved, $2 million would go to Duncan Hargrove Associated Architects to design the new structure.
The commissioners will also hear a report from county health officials on preparations for the upcoming flu season, update its flood maps and amend the solid waste ordinance.
The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 1 in the commissioners’ chambers at 30 Valley St. A short pre-meeting review of the agenda will begin at 4:15.
—David Forbes, staff writer