Buncombe County will not appeal an N.C. Court of Appeals ruling that overturned its zoning and multifamily condo ordinances, the Board of Commissioners decided after a closed session today. Instead, the county will restart the zoning-approval process — and pursue a moratorium on “undesirable” property uses in the meantime.
The court’s ruling overturned the ordinances — both passed in 2007 — on the grounds that there had not been sufficient public notice during the original process. The county will now restart the three-to-four-month process of approving the zoning ordinance.
The ruling goes into effect on April 6, and as a stopgap measure on 14 “undesirable land uses” such as adult entertainment, concrete plants, junkyards and hazardous-waste sites, the county will pursue a moratorium on those projects. The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the moratorium on Friday, April 3, at 2 p.m. in the commissioners’ chambers at 30 Valley St.
“This board is desirous of reinstating the zoning map as it existed before the court’s ruling,” Chair David Gantt said, reading a motion decided on by the commissioners. “This board is committed to a zoning plan and will pursue a moratorium on locally undesirable land uses that were controlled under the zoning plan.”
The board unanimously voted to instruct county staff to begin the zoning process again and set the date for the moratorium.
“This board has agreed not to support a referendum on this issue — on the moratorium or the zoning” Gantt added. “The moratorium will not affect residential homes.”
However, in the meantime, other uses prohibited by zoning — or the multifamily condo ordinance that restricted development at certain elevations — are no longer banned.
“The unanimous decision of the board was that we need to have zoning to protect our mountaintops, our steep slopes and to give communities a say in what their community looks like in the future,” Gantt said after the vote. “We did not instruct our attorney to appeal. Our board decided we would do a moratorium instead of an appeal. We’re trying to keep the status quo so no one wakes up with a concrete plant next to their home.”
The vote marked a change for Commissioner Bill Stanley, who had originally voted against zoning in 2007. The board plans to reinstate the zoning map exactly as it was on the day before the court ruling.
As for the multifamily-condo ordinance, there don’t seem to be immediate plans to revive it.
“We are not going to appeal that,” Gantt said. “I would forecast that this board would look at ways to tackle the multifamily issue, both from the affordable-housing and ridge-top standpoints. We will look at that at some point in the future.”
The full list of the 14 land uses that the moratorium would prohibit is as follows:
1) Adult entertainment
2) Amusement parks
3) Asphalt plants
4) Chip mills (not sawmills)
5) Concrete plant
6) Hazardous waste sites
9) Landing strips
10) Mining operations
11) Motor sports facilities
12) Outdoor shooting range
14) Solid waste disposal
The moratorium would last for 60 days, but can be extended after another public hearing.
“I would anticipate that may happen,” Gantt noted.
— David Forbes, staff writer