The Community Reparations Commission is not just looking at the past; it’s aiming to prevent future discrimination against Buncombe County’s Black residents. In its latest recommendation to local governments, approved in December, the commission called for a third-party audit to ensure that changes have been made to stop racial disparities.
During its meeting of Tuesday, Jan. 24, Asheville City Council will consider that request. Members are scheduled to vote on a resolution that would direct the city to work with the commission and Buncombe County staff on the project. Together, they would develop a scope of work to select a consulting firm and guide its auditors.
According to a staff report, the reparations commission unanimously approved its Dec. 5 recommendation for the city of Asheville and Buncombe County to “stop further harm” to the Black community by “ceasing the repetition of institutional processes that lead to racially disparate outcomes.” The audit is meant to ensure that such harms have actually ceased and that local governments are in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will consider adoption of the same resolution Tuesday, Feb. 7. If the agreement is approved by both governments, a draft scope of work for the audit would be produced by Monday, Feb. 20, with a final scope of work expected by Monday, March 20. The reparations commission would then advertise and pick a firm to conduct the audit in spring; a final audit report and recommendations would be produced by the end of the summer.
In other news
Council will consider a public hearing to amend a previously approved conditional zoning for property located at 264 Enka Heritage Parkway to adjust for site plan changes. The conditional zoning for the 45.5 acre site was originally approved last January, with plans of constructing a one-story warehouse/distribution building of about 130,00 square feet.
The new plan for the site includes three one-story industrial buildings totaling over 585,00 square feet, among other changes. More Xpress coverage of the project is available in this month’s Development Roundup.
Notably, the meeting does not include any item related to funding for McCormick Field and the Asheville Tourists minor league baseball team. As previously reported by Xpress, Council’s planning agenda had listed consideration of such a resolution for Jan. 24.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains seven items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- An interlocal agreement with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office that would allow the Asheville Police Department to use the county’s real-time criminal intelligence camera system at an annual cost of $30,000. The FUSUS system can access live and recorded security feeds from multiple sources; the APD would be allowed to tap “all FUSUS capabilities and cameras located within the city limits,” with the exception of cameras at Buncombe County Schools. The agreement also provides permission for the BCSO to install FUSUS-linked cameras on city property.
- A contract of roughly $224,000 with Charlotte-based Walker Consultants for pre-design services on the Parking Garage Capital Repairs Project. A staff report notes that three of the city’s four parking garages are more than 30 years old. The firm will provide reports and data needed to make decisions regarding future repairs and ongoing maintenance.
- A more than $2.26 million purchase of four 30-foot diesel Gillig buses and transit accessories for the Asheville Rides Transit system. The acquisition replaces a 2019 order for four buses from Vicinity Motors, which was originally expected to be delivered in 2020. The city canceled that order after delays caused by supply chain disruptions and finding “significant issues” with the buses. Buying the four Gillig buses will require over $471,000 more than previously budgeted for the purchase; that funding will come from the city’s Transit Services Multi-Year Fund.
Council members will gather in their chambers on the second floor of City Hall, located at 70 Court Plaza, starting at 5 p.m. The meeting will also be carried live on Charter/Spectrum Channel 193 and livestreamed through Asheville’s public engagement hub and on the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public can also listen live by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code 3906.
Those who wish to speak during the meeting must attend in person and sign up at the door. No live remote comment will be permitted. Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 3906; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilJan242023@PublicInput.com until 9 a.m. Jan. 24. General comments for City Council can be sent at any time to AshevilleNCCouncil@AshevilleNC.gov.
The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.