Commissioners approve moratorium on 14 “undesirable” land uses

At a special meeting yesterday, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved 5-0 a moratorium on 14 “undesirable” land uses in the unincorporated areas of the county. The move comes in the wake of a recent court decision that overturned the county’s zoning ordinance.

The moratorium prevents the issuing of building permits for 14 uses the board deemed “undesirable,” including concrete and asphalt plants, mining operations and adult-entertainment stores, while the county goes through the process of re-approving the zoning ordinance in a way that complies with state law.

“This board does not take moratoriums lightly,” Chair David Gantt said. “We respect property rights and the biggest investment you have: your home. But we have to talk as a community, we have to respect each other’s points of view. The way to keep the status quo is to do a moratorium now, so there will be no lapse.”

Commissioner Holly Jones sounded a similar note.

“It is my belief that proper land use ensures property rights, improves the stewardship of our national resources and ensures the quality of life and natural beauty — so I’ll be supporting the moratorium,” Jones said.

The moratorium will take effect at midnight Monday and will last until June 3. The commissioners are expected to take up the zoning ordinance again around June 2.

The move followed a public hearing where some speakers had opposed the measure — and zoning itself. Conservative activist Eric Gorny, a Swannanoa resident, accused the board of using fear tactics to get more support for zoning.

“With the reversal of zoning, we go back to the ordinances we already had, and it seems like these 14 uses already had ordinances regulating them,” he said. “In my opinion it seems like having this moratorium is a farce, like you’re just trying to scare people that if we don’t go back to zoning there’s no way to protect them, even though we already had regulations on adult bookstores and concrete plants. It seems like you’re just trying to scare your citizens into your agenda.”

But the majority of speakers supported it and even called on the commissioners to strengthen some of the zoning rules when it reinstates the ordinance.

“I want to urge that you vote for the moratorium,” Erin Polzeretsky, the president of the North Buncombe Association of Concerned Citizens, said. “We are part of a community that, over the past few years, has been forced to spend $26,000 and thousands of hours of volunteer time in trying to prevent a concrete plant from being built in our community. That’s a larger concern many citizens throughout the county have.”

He added that when the board takes up zoning again, they should further regulate the “open-use” zoning that takes up much of the county, prohibiting certain uses near school and residential areas.

“We citizens do really get jerked around from time to time, but we are grateful for the zoning ordinance,” Flat Creek resident Martha Claxton said. “We simply ask you to free us from these development struggles that take our time and money. Please help us keep Buncombe County a resourceful, beautiful place.”

But Enka resident Jerry Rice said his opposition to zoning is unchanged and that the commissioners had scheduled the special meeting at a time that made it hard for zoning opponents to attend.

“My position hasn’t changed, I’m still with the ‘no zoning’ crowd,” Rice told the board, pointing to hazardous-waste sites like the contaminated former CTS of Asheville plant as examples that he believed showed regulation didn’t seem to stop “undesirable” uses. “Even under zoning, we can’t even get the cleanup we need. The state and federal regulations don’t seem to work — why will a moratorium do any better?”

Jones acknowledged that the time “wasn’t the most convenient for a lot of people, and we understand that. But to have it take effect by Monday -— to have there not be a lapse when the court’s ruling goes into effect — we had no choice.”

— David Forbes, staff writer

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4 thoughts on “Commissioners approve moratorium on 14 “undesirable” land uses

  1. Think of Others

    Does ‘zoning’ cover – what the vast majority of people would consider – ‘eyesores?’ If not – it should. We should legislate against broken down appliances in the yard, toys scattered about, unmaintained house exteriors and the like and I hope that’s where we’re heading – soon! (but not too soon! jab jab-wink!)As a long time resident of the region, it is embarrassing to have visitors from outside the region comment on the eyesores that seem to go unchecked. We should want to take pride in the appearance of our properties and if folks don’t get that… then I’m all for helping them ‘get it!’ Zoning. Gitterdone!

  2. Matt Mercy

    Yes, “Think of Others”, I agree. We need to go further though and fine people heavily for even the smallest infractions. This is what the International Property Maintenance Code was written for! I know these are hard times, but maybe $1000 dollar a day fines, property leins/confiscation and imprisonment will “Gitterdone!”

    In all seriousness, certain “progressive” segments of our population are begging our politicians to bring back the centuries-old tradition of feudalism and slavery – for themselves and everyone else. I know this is a cliche, but honestly: if you are so obsessed with your children and grandchildren living in bondage and servitude, aren’t there other countries out there better suited to your masochism?

  3. mmsb13

    I agree with “Think of Others”.

    There’s alot of people’s homes / property that needs to be cleaned up. Some of it looks like “Sanford & Son” (old TV show, for those that don’t know). Show some pride. . . if you’re a slob, show it behind closed doors.

    What’s wrong with being able to drive around without seeing a bunch of junk/trash/toys/uncut lawns/poor dogs chained up/ ect. . .???

    People need to set an example for their kids. . . I grew up in a sloven house, when I got older, I was ashamed to have friends over. My parents both worked hard & provided, but didn’t seem to care about the appearance of the household very much.

  4. Dionysis

    “certain “progressive” segments of our population are begging our politicians to bring back the centuries-old tradition of feudalism and slavery -for themselves and everyone else.”

    Can you substantiate this statement with facts? And please, not another rant by Alex Jones in response. Thanks.

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