Buncombe County Commissioners preview: I-26 cometh

In its regular meeting Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 6, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners is set for a close vote on the controversial matter of which I-26 alternative to endorse.

The issue has been controversial. Alternative 3, a plan backed by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce — and some commissioners — would demolish 61 homes, including 24 in the predominantly African-American Burton Street neighborhood.

Asheville City Council has endorsed another plan, Alternative 4b, developed by the Asheville Design Center and geared toward separating local and interstate traffic while minimizing the amount of land required to build the project. Proponents of the plan have said that the commissioners don’t need to rush a decision, and that 4b has not been completely studied yet, while council member Brownie Newman has warned that if commissioners vote for Alternative 3, it would send a “mixed message” to the state Department of Transportation.

Chairman David Gantt and Commissioner Holly Jones have stated their support for 4b, while Vice Chair Bill Stanley and Commissioner Carol Peterson support Alternative 3. Commissioner K. Ray Bailey will likely be the deciding vote.

Also on the board’s agenda: an update on its agreement with the Pack Square Conservancy; and the consideration of a soil and water conservation easement on Everett farm in Sandy Mush.

The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m. in room 204 of the Buncombe County Courthouse. A pre-meeting, including public comment, begins at 4 p.m.

— David Forbes, staff writer

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