Council to consider UDO changes, JCC expansion

Asheville city seal

Move over, police, protests and the pandemic: At Asheville City Council’s meeting of Tuesday, Oct. 13, the focus shifts to development (at least according to the agenda).

Members will hold two public hearings to align Asheville’s Unified Development Ordinance with recent state legislation. If approved, the proposed amendments will impact historic preservation and how development violations are enforced, bringing city statutes into state compliance. 

In July 2019, the N.C. General Assembly moved to consolidate city and county statutes for development regulations in a law known as Chapter 160D. According to staff reports available before the meeting, it’s the first major “recodification and modernization of city and county development regulations since 1905.” 

The majority of the changes were supposed to go into effect Jan. 1. However, state legislators approved a bill this summer making Chapter 160D effective immediately. The changes are “fairly minor,” city reports say; although local governments aren’t required to implement them until July 1, 2021, staff recommended making the alterations now.

All proposed changes are consistent with Asheville’s Comprehensive Plan. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, Historic Resources Commission and the Asheville Board of Adjustment all approved the changes unanimously. 

In other news

Also on Council’s docket is a proposal to expand the Asheville Jewish Community Center’s Hilde’s House day care center. The plan calls for a larger side porch, a new ramp for accessibility, additional parking spaces behind the building and the closure of a driveway currently linking Hillside Street, Lennox Court and the main JCC campus. 

If approved, the plan calls for a new driveway exiting onto Murdock Avenue. In accordance with recommendations from the Planning and Zoning Commission, this driveway will be used for right turns only. 

Council approved a conditional zoning permit for the site in 2017. The latest expansion maintains all of the previously approved conditions, according to staff reports and zoning maps. 

Members will vote as well on a conditional zoning amendment to the planned mixed-use development located between Coxe and Asheland Avenues. Developers presented reductions to the project’s parking and commercial space at Council’s meeting of Sept. 22, citing design challenges with the slope of the property. Council initially approved a conditional zoning request for the development in December 2019. 

Consent agenda and public comment

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 resolutions: 

  • A $1,250,000 budget amendment to improve local bus stops. The Federal Transit Administration’s Discretionary Grant Fund program is providing $1 million in funding; the grant requires a $250,000 local match, paid for through the General Obligation bond allocations for bus stop repairs, unspent development project conditional approval funds and previously budgeted funding in the Transit Capital Fund. 
  • A $15,000 budget amendment to accept a grant for the Office of Sustainability’s Climate Justice Initiative. The funding comes from the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and is intended to expand community outreach efforts. 
  • A resolution allowing City Manager Debra Campbell to extend a contract with Smarking, Inc., to provide real-time parking data aggregation. A year-long renewal will cost $35,260, bringing the total contract value to $97,935. 

Prior to the meeting, members will attend a 2:30 p.m. work session on proposed hotel development regulations. The meeting will be livestreamed at this link; no public comment will be accepted. 

The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found at this link. Due to COVID-19, Council will meet remotely, and the meeting will be livestreamed through Asheville’s Public Engagement Hub

Members of the public who wish to speak during the meeting must sign up in advance at this link or call 828-259-5900 no later than noon on Monday, Oct. 12. City staff will then use the list of registered speakers to manage the speaker queue during the meeting.

Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 9688; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilOct132020@PublicInput.com. Emails will be accepted for 24 hours after each public hearing.

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About Molly Horak
Molly is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and writer for Mountain Xpress. Her work has appeared in the Citizen-Times, News and Observer and Charlotte Observer. Follow me @molly_horak

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