Council returns to in-person meetings Feb. 22

Asheville city seal

It’s been nearly seven months since Asheville residents have been allowed to come face-to-face with their city’s elected officials. That’s set to change 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, as Asheville City Council returns to an in-person meeting at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville Banquet Hall.

The move follows a decision by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners to allow the county’s indoor mask mandate to expire Feb. 16, with exceptions for some county buildings. Members of the public are no longer required to wear face coverings in city of Asheville buildings but are “highly encouraged” to wear them during the meeting, according to a city press release.

Council had previously resumed in-person meetings in June of last year, following nearly a year of virtual meetings held in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, members again returned to a virtual format two months later, following the reinstatement of the county’s mask requirement Aug. 18. (The county board has met in person and allowed public attendance since May 2021.)

Members of the public wishing to speak live will be required to attend in-person and sign up at the meeting. Live remote public comment will not be accepted. Voicemail messages can be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 4754; written comments can be sent to Comments must be submitted no later than 9 a.m. Feb. 22. 

For those who choose not to attend in person, the meeting will be livestreamed through Asheville’s public engagement hub and on the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public can also listen live by calling 855-925-280, meeting code 4754.

Prior to the meeting, Council will hold a work session on the city’s fiscal year 2022-23 budget beginning at 2:30 p.m. The work session is open to the public; however, public comment will not be accepted.  

In other news

Council will conduct a public hearing to consider a request from Haywood Street Community Development for over $2.2 million in city support for a 45-unit affordable housing project on West Haywood Street. Of that funding, $1.3 million would be a grant from previously approved affordable housing bonds, while $904,000 would be a low-interest loan from the city’s Housing Trust Fund. Council must then hold another hearing to consider a conditional rezoning of the West Haywood Street property that would permit the affordable housing project to be built.

Asheville has already invested $296,000 in the project through previous agreements, while Buncombe County has approved $749,000. The project’s total cost is estimated at over $10 million; HSCD expects additional funding to come from the Dogwood Health Trust, a private lender and its own equity.

Council will also consider another conditional rezoning of properties located at 363 Hilliard Ave. for the construction of one five-story mixed-use building and one three-story residential building, which would contain a total of 187 new residential units and 204 off-street parking spaces. Asheville’s Design Review Committee voted unanimously against the project’s approval in January, while the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the project Feb. 2.

(For more details about the development approval process in Asheville and Buncombe County, see the Xpress Development Guide, available online and in the Feb. 16 print issue.)

Consent agenda 

The consent agenda for the meeting contains eight items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:




The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.