Buncombe County Commissioners preview: Filling the cracks in the wall?

At its June 21 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will consider adopting new rules designed to improve the safety and appearance of large retaining walls. The ordinance establishes standards for retaining wall systems that exceed 20 feet.

Requirements include:

• Terraces of at least 10 feet in width to “provide for increased stability and maintenance of the wall.”

• Landscaping and vegetive screening to improve the wall’s appearance, including planting trees in the foreground of the wall and planting bushes along the terraces.

• The installation of fencing at the top of the wall to deter unsafe activities near its edge.

• Engineer certification that the wall has been built to design specifications approved by the Buncombe County Permits and Inspections Department.

• Long-term monitoring and evaluation of any movement or anomalies in or behind the wall, including cracking, water pore pressure and foundation settlement.

If passed, the new ordinance will be administered by the County Planning Department. It’s been in the works for a while, with commissioners asking staff to start drafting the rules at their December work retreat and again in January after a stop-work order was issued against a massive retaining wall being built along Highway 74 in Reynolds.

Citing visible cracks in the 88-foot-high structure, county staff reported that an in-depth analysis was needed to determine whether it’s safe. That stop-work order is still in place; the analysis is ongoing and its unclear when it will be completed. Meanwhile, board Chair David Gantt has called the wall “a monstrosity.” It’s part of the Berrington Village apartment complex being developed by the Greensboro-based Carroll Investment Properties.

After several weeks of debate, the board is also scheduled to vote on its proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. At the June 14 public hearing on that budget, proposed fee increases for several Planning Department permits and services emerged as a contentious issue. In response to public feedback, the commissioners put them on the June 21 agenda for further consideration, including a proposed $1,000 fee for adult entertainment licenses, a $50 increase to manufactured home park permits, and a $100 increase to annual junkyard registration permits.

In other business, the commissioners plan to vote on a resolution that would pave the way for a new sidewalk to be constructed near Emma Elementary School along North Louisiana Avenue from Emma Road to Mosswood Road. The project would be funded by federal money secured by the city of Asheville.

The board will meet at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 21, in the commissioner’s chambers, located at 30 Valley St. A short pre-meeting review of the agenda will begin at 4:15 p.m.


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About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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