Two weeks after Asheville City Council told staff to find the Occupy Asheville demonstrators a temporary location, the protesters are back before Council tonight as it deliberates on the possibility of a more permanent camping spot.
Shortly after the last meeting, the Occupy Asheville demonstrators took up camp in a spot tentatively agreed upon with city staff: parking lot below the Lexington Avenue bridge. However, a number of demonstrators expressed concerns about the location, though they have proceeded forward with occupying the area, setting up tents, a kitchen and decorations.
Tonight city staff will present a report discussing various options for a more permanent spot. At the Oct. 11 Council meeting, representatives of the demonstrators requested a spot in Pack Square Park, but Council balked, citing logistical challenges and the fact the item wasn’t on the agenda for the public to know about and discuss ahead of time. However, staff’s report indicated that the three spots offered by staff were all parking lots. The report asserts that staff doesn’t have the authority to waive the 10 p.m. curfew in the city’s parks and claims that on Oct. 18, Occupy Asheville representatives submitted a permit application for long-term use of the current Lexington Avenue location. The report notes that the state Department of Transportation the District Attorney’s office have expressed concerns about prolonged camping in the area, and that the Asheville Police Department has arrested one person for assault at the current camping site.
Council will also consider approving the second reading of a zoning change allowing subdivision of a lot in Montford. Advocates have asserted the change makes more affordable housing possible at the site, while opponents, including the Montford Neighborhood Association, claim it will open the door to an unwelcome level of density in the area.
Asheville City Council meets at 5 p.m., Oct. 25, in its chambers on the second floor of City Hall.