Clear the sidewalks, and get sustainable: Asheville City Council’s Oct. 26 meeting

At their Oct. 26 meeting, Asheville City Council members took the following actions (see below for detailed dispatches via Twitter from Xpress Senior News Reporter David Forbes):

• Passed a motion unanimously to instate a 1-month fee waiver for handicapped parking in downtown Asheville; Council’s looking at changing meter design, working with AT&T for more parking

• Agreed 6-1 to send cell tower rules back to the Planning and Zoning board, with provisions for rules on setbacks, co-location, Manheimer against

• Economic incentives for Montford Commons project pass 4-3, Bothwell, Smith and Bill Russell against

• Sustainability bonus ordinance, allowing more density for affordable/sustainable housing near trans corridors, passes 5-2 (Bellamy, Davis still opposed the measure)

• Coopers Hawk Dr annexation passes 5-1, Russell against

• Council unanimously passes sidewalk rule changes, with appeals process added new rules requiring owners to keep sidewalks clear — and imposing civic penalties for not doing so.

Updates during the meeting by David Forbes
5:05 p.m. Pledge of Allegiance given by Kristie Tobias, Miss North Carolina, who says she’s trying to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.


5:11 p.m. Proclamation for AIDS Awareness Walk in downtown, Saturday, Nov. 6


5:16 p.m. Tobias receives proclamation from Mayor Bellamy http://plixi.com/p/53065619


5:18 p.m. Asheville Schools presentation: enrollment up to 3872, first increase in five years.


5:19 p.m. Average SAT score 1105, above state averages for 12 yrs running


5:22 p.m. School system rep: Despite $750,000 in cuts, reading, math, science scores up, teacher layoffs avoided.


5:31 p.m. School system reps also touting uniforms for whole system, and using some single-gender classrooms


5:32 p.m. RT @DavidForbes: School system reps also touting uniforms for whole system, and using some single-gender classrooms


5:34 p.m. Superintendent Allen Johnson says AP Classes, improved participation rates behind SAT score rise


5:38 p.m. Council applauds school staff “for their leadership”


5:39 p.m. Now onto considering changed rules for handicapped parking in downtown


5:40 p.m. Transport Director Ken Putnam: Meters will activate for handicapped parkers Nov. 12, but city pursuing measures “to soften the blow”


5:42 p.m. City staff putting informational fliers about meter changes starting today


5:43 p.m. Measures to “soften blow” include reduced rates in Civic Center deck for Battery Park residents, prepaid meter parking


5:45 p.m. Other measures include new surface parking lot in downtown, ready by 2011 and on-street permits for Battery Park residents


5:47 p.m. Council memberber Cecil Bothwell: “I’m uncomfortable with abruptly changing this without fixing” parking situation first


5:52 p.m. Putnam: 13-14 people using handicapped placards in Battery Park aren 3-4 Battery Park residents (???)


5:56 p.m. Newman, Davis, Smith expressing support for reduced Civic Center deck rates for Battery Park residents


5:59 p.m. Putnam: of 1,200 city spaces, 50 handicapped. Bellamy: Would think we’d want more, lots of social services downtown


6:00 p.m. Bellamy: There are “logistical issues” with meters and ease of use for disabled, could leave city open to lawsuit


6:04 p.m. Bart Floyd, disabled man from Arden: “I am one of those individuals who can’t feed meter,” likes prepaid parking idea


6:06 p.m. Floyd says willing to work on solution but “First time I get a ticket for a meter I can’t feed…”


6:07 p.m. Battery Park resident Frankie Moore: We had a committee that was working on this issue, would appreciate more notice from city


6:08 p.m. Battery Park resident Clarence Gray: We’re on fixed budgets, only place w/out accessible parking w/in 1/4 mile. “We are a poor community”


6:10 p.m. Asheville resident Bernadette Thompson: Drive vehicle that requires at least 8 feet, use downtown for biz, willing to pay, can’t use meter


6:15 p.m. Battery Park resident Rylan Hanson: We were here long before Asheville got popular, changes “disgraceful,” will force some to move, sell cars


6:16 p.m. Asheville resident Rosa Walker: Paid taxes all the years I’ve lived here, don’t want to be forced to leave city


6:18 p.m. Bothwell: Can we make provision for Battery Park residents by Nov. 12? Putnam: we can start Civic Center deck rules


6:19 p.m. Bothwell: going up hill on Walnut from deck hard during winter for able person, how can put disabled thru that?


6:20 p.m. Bothwell: changes too abrupt, “uncomfortable” with them


6:20 p.m. Newman: People can use elevator, go through library. Laughs from disabled in chambers


6:21 p.m. Council member Gordon Smith offers amendment to waive fees in Civic Center deck for 1 month to help people adapt, work with Battery Park


6:25 p.m. Bellamy: “I don’t want people to get that because of this you can’t live in downtown, even in affordable housing, if you’re low-income”


6:27 p.m. Newman: Don’t think any would disagree with that, “but we just can’t have people taking up parking permanently where we need turnover”


6:29 p.m. Council passes motion unanimously for 1-month fee waiver, looking at changing meter design, working with AT&T for more parking


6:35 p.m. Presentation on Community Health Assessment, hope to have program to map routes to farmer’s markets, exercising, etc.


6:37 p.m. Staff encouraging Ashevilleans to take health poll at http://surveymonkey.com/s/CommunityHealthAssessment


6:38 p.m. Bellamy notes that Council’s “already heard about” all issues on Public Hearing, Unfinished Biz parts of agenda. “So let’s be swift”


6:39 p.m. First (back) up: expanding cell-phone use to nonresidential properties in resident areas


6:41 p.m. City Attorney Bob Oast: Cell towers in resident areas still must go through strict approval process


6:45 p.m. Assistant Planning Director Shannon Tuch: other cities allow similar use to what we’re considering, but many require “proof of need”


6:47 p.m. Attorneyy Patsy Bryson representing US Cellular (who want to build a tower in Beaverdam area): urge you to adopt new rules


6:48 p.m. Bryson: “We believe your failure to act” would constitute illegal prohibition on service due to topography


6:50 p.m. Bryson showing maps of cell service in area, bad coverage in Beaverdam, Haw Creek areas, which are primarily residential


6:52 p.m. Bryson: “Cell towers look very different these days” not as intrusive as they used to be.


6:53 p.m. No one else comments during public hearing on cell-tower rules


6:55 p.m. Bothwell wondering if coverage maps are accurate, Oast says they’re verified by city’s consultants


6:59 p.m. Newman wondering about aesthetic requirements. Oast: with permit process “can make them look like anything you want to”


7:01 p.m. Bothwell moves sending the matter back to city staff for further modification


7:05 p.m. Council unanimously agrees to send matter back to staff, with provisions for rules on aesthetics, setbacks, co-location


7:15 p.m. Cancel that, tweet went out too early


7:16 p.m. Bryson: In our view, this delay is not reasonable, Council needs to act on basic extension to residential areas


7:17 p.m. Beaverdam Ian Harley: “If we acquiesce to a requirement for this tower, where does this stop?”


7:21 p.m. Council agrees 6-1 to send cell tower rules back to P&Z, with provisions for rules on setbacks, colocation, Manheimer against


7:22 p.m. Council delays Beaverdam tower consideration to Nov. 23


7:26 p.m. Council going into closed session.


7:47 p.m. Council’s back, now taking up incentives for 250-unit Montford Commons project


7:50 p.m. Incentives: waiver of 50% fees, increase in property taxes for 5 yrs, if units remain workforce housing for 15 yrs


7:51 p.m. Bothwell: “I’d like to note that this project doesn’t meet our definition of affordability”


7:52 p.m. Incentives pass 4-3, Bothwell, Smith and Bill Russell against


7:53 p.m. Now considering sustainability bonus ordinance


7:54 p.m. Bothwell says he’s changing vote from 1st reading, believes ordinance has enough safeguards, won’t cause drastic overdevelopment


7:55 p.m. Sustainability bonus ordinance, allowing more density for affordable/sustainable housing near trans corridors, passes 5-2


7:56 p.m. Bellamy, Davis still opposed the measure


7:57 p.m. Now onto annexation of Coopers Hawk Drive area, Manheimer recused due to her law firm’s involvement in related cases


7:59 p.m. Russell: “I was proud of what Council did 2 weeks ago” when delayed Royal Pines annexation, sad this is taking place


8:00 p.m. Coopers Hawk Dr annexation passes 5-1, Russell against


8:00 p.m. Bellamy: Council has agreed to give them more time to prepare


8:01 p.m. Now onto a deal to accept energy from NC Greenpower’s hydro microturbine


8:04 p.m. City staff: “This really hasn’t been tried in this region.” If approved, would verify economic viability


8:07 p.m. Council approves deal unanimously. City Manager Gary Jackson: “to become a truly sustainable city, it requires this kind of innovation”


8:10 p.m. Council considering new rules requiring owners to keep sidewalks clear, civic penalties for not doing so


8:11 p.m. Bellamy: Ordinance needs to have clear appeals process


8:11 p.m. Criminal penalties under new rules for piling snow in a way that blocks sidewalks


8:12 p.m. Bellamy also wants “out” clause for disabled individuals


8:17 p.m. Bothwell: “I’m hugely supportive of this, seeing as I’ve spent a lot of time clearing sidewalks” says city should do the same


8:27 p.m. Downtown association head Dwight Butner: Concerns about penalties on property owners, need more feedback before Council votes


8:29 p.m. Council unanimously passes sidewalk rule changes, with appeals process added


8:31 p.m. Public comment. Asheville Tribune writer Leslee Kulba: city should consider taking advantage of ways provided by NC to reduce bureaucracy


8:32 p.m. Bellamy: “I’m supportive of anything that stops the bleeding from our budget to the state”


8:33 p.m. Anti-annexation advocate Betty Jackson wants forum on alternatives to forced annexation.


8:34 p.m. Jackson asserting activists like her speaking up for residents of areas under consideration for annexation, who don’t get a vote


8:35 p.m. Jackson: “These are nameless, faceless people and you should really think about what you do to them”


8:39 p.m. Asheville resident John Buckner: “I have these things I work on, stick them in notebooks, I’m not a big wig”


8:41 p.m. Buckner: “I need help with these [unspecified] things, I’m tired of getting my butt whipped by your city”


8:43 p.m. Buncombe resident Gerard Wester: Annexing won’t help your budget issues, “you have an impending bubble on your next tax valuation”


8:44 p.m. Meeting adjourned

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About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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3 thoughts on “Clear the sidewalks, and get sustainable: Asheville City Council’s Oct. 26 meeting

  1. J

    From the Vance Institute’s (once headed up by Cecil and Gordon) Proposal for a Transparency in Government Ordinance:

    “Exclusion of the public from discussions that substantively affect the public weal and future taxation prevents meaningful citizen contribution and prevents an appearance of insider-dealing and non-accountability.”

    Now Gordon’s run completely counter to that. It’s the old Gordonian principle: when you do it, it’s bad; when I do it, it’s cool. Exclusion was bad when Gordon was just a plebe, but now that he’s in government, it’s good to exclude people from public discussion.

  2. missanne thrope

    i certainly don’t know the full issue on the handicapped parking, but it is a wheelchair full of crap for people to not have to pay to park downtown on city streets…i am not one of those folks who think we have a parking problem downtown, i am always able to find parking, but just because you have a handicapped placard should not mean that you shouldn’t have to pump the meter like the rest of us..

  3. tatuaje

    Interesting that there were no protests concerning the annexation of Cooper’s Hawk.

    Apparently some people care very passionately about this….

    sometimes.

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