Asheville City Council will consider revisions to two affordable housing incentives that could make them more accessible to developers during its Tuesday, Oct. 22 meeting. Both the Land Use Incentive Grant policy and development fee rebates may see changes after staff members in the city’s Community Development Division found that the programs were underperforming.
According to a staff report available before the meeting, Asheville implemented the LUIG policy in 2010 to encourage developer investment in projects that benefit the city, including affordable housing. The policy has since been updated five times to simplify its terms and further stimulate development.
Proposed changes to the latest iteration of the policy include halving the number of points to qualify for a one-year property tax grant from 10 to 5 and raising the minimum period that developments must remain affordable from 20 to 15 years. New opportunities to gain qualifying points for the grant would also be added, such as bonuses for brownfield redevelopment and energy efficiency.
Development fee rebates, which are currently included as part of the LUIG policy, are slated to be broken out as a separate program. In June 2017, staff members had suggested eliminating the rebates due to lack of use by developers, but further review led them to recommend uncoupling the program from LUIG.
The new rules would allow developers to be compensated for planning and zoning, site development, building safety and review and other fees on projects that serve residents making less than -80% of the area median income. Homeowner recovery fees, reinspection and resubmittal fees and technology fees, among others, are not eligible for the rebates.
In other business
Council members will vote on whether to amend the city’s charter in response to Senate Bill 813, which changed the city’s election process in 2018. Two separate amendments would overturn state-imposed districts, returning the city to at-large Council elections, and reinstate nonpartisan primary elections for those seats. The vote comes after a Sept. 24 public hearing in which Council member Vijay Kapoor clashed with colleagues Keith Young and Sheneika Smith over the impacts of election districts on African American voters in Asheville.
City Manager Debra Campbell and Assistant Director of Transportation Jessica Morriss will also present an update about the current funding strategy for implementing the first year of the Transit Master Plan. According to the presentation, the city has allocated $1.2 million to fund the first six months of the plan, scheduled to begin in January, which will include an increase in service hours, hiring additional staff, bus maintenance and a maintenance facility study.
Council’s consent agenda for the meeting contains 19 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include resolutions to:
- Authorize the city manager to enter into an agreement with Buncombe County, as well as collaborate with the neighborhoods of Burton Street, East End/Valley Street, Shiloh and Southside, to support the African American Neighborhood Historic Markers Project, which will focus on the African American heritage in each historically black neighborhood.
- Broaden an existing policy that prohibits people from bringing dangerous weapons on city property to include city-owned buses. Currently, weapons and firearms are not allowed in city buildings or at certain city-owned recreational facilities.
- Obtain video display equipment for the U.S. Cellular Center as a part of the May 28 naming rights agreement with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The agreement stipulated that the EBCI provide funds for the purchase and installation of the equipment; $500,000 of the project’s $1.143 million budget will come from the tribe, with the remaining $643,000 funded as part of a July agreement with Ticketmaster.
- Authorize the city manager to execute a more than $558,000 contract with Sylva-based B.H. Graning Landscapes for work to stabilize Old Toll Road. The southern portion of the road has been closed since April 19 after it was damaged due to a rain-induced landslide.
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.