Council to consider request to expand Highway Business zoning to allow tiny homes

Asheville city seal

As of 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 26, two items that originally appeared on Asheville City Council’s agenda were pulled from the Nov. 26 meeting. Council will no longer consider: a resolution authorizing the exchange of real property located on South Market Street for property located on Beaumont Street on the consent agenda; a resolution amending the City of Asheville Land Use Incentive Grant Policy.

For some tiny home advocates, it’s not how big the house is, but where it’s located. During its Tuesday, Nov. 26 meeting, Asheville City Council will consider a zoning change that would allow tiny homes on wheels to operate as permanent residences within the city’s Highway Business zoning district. According to Drew Crawford, owner of Asheville-based DIY Tiny, a tiny home community at 22 Burleson Road, the change could increase the availability of tiny homes for residential use and ease the area’s shortage of affordable housing. 

Crawford first proposed using tiny houses on wheels to meet local housing needs during public comment at the July 23 Council meeting. DIY Tiny’s location currently is classified as a campground operating in Highway Business zoning. In 2018, changes to Highway Business zoning eliminated campgrounds as a permitted use, though existing businesses were grandfathered in. Campgrounds are still permitted within several other zoning categories, including lodging expansion district, regional business, commercial industrial, resort and river zoning. 

According to a staff report available before the meeting, Crawford received a notice of violation for operating the community without proper permitting. The report notes that most tiny homes on wheels are not built according to N.C. Building Code or certified through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They are regulated by the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles for temporary or recreational uses. However, any structure that is occupied for longer than six months is classified by the city as residential housing. 

At the Sept. 4 meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission, Crawford’s request to amend the zoning law received a unanimous vote against the change. The staff report notes that city staff also recommend against the zoning amendment, arguing that it would not support the type of dense, transit-oriented commercial and multifamily residential development recommended for the Highway Business District.

In other business 

Council will vote on whether to approve revisions to the city’s Land Use Incentive Grant Policy intended to make the affordable housing incentive program more accessible to developers. Council reviewed the proposed changes, which include uncoupling other affordable housing rebate programs from the policy, during its Oct. 22 meeting. 

Consent agenda

Council’s consent agenda for the meeting contains nine items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include resolutions to:

  • Change the name of the Tree Commission to Urban Forestry Commission to modernize and best describe the work of the department.
  • Amend an existing contract with J. Brady Contracting to repair the heating and air conditioning units in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. Only one functioning HVAC unit remains, leaving the venue with the potential to temporarily close if it breaks before the necessary repairs are carried out. The amendment would add $50,000 to the contract amount.
  • Authorize an exchange of property between the city and a new condo development at 55 South Market St. The condominium would deed a portion of its property that overlaps a city right of way in exchange for an easement from the city for a right of way along Beaumont Street.Asheville City Council meets at 5 p.m. in Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 70 Court Plaza, Asheville. The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.
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