Asheville City Council has long vowed to increase affordable housing, a promise echoed by recently elected members Kim Roney, Sage Turner and Sandra Kilgore throughout the 2020 election cycle. On Tuesday, Jan. 26, all seven members will set their affordability housing priorities for the coming year at a 3 p.m. work session ahead of their 5 p.m. regular meeting.
Council will first hear an overview of Asheville’s affordable housing policy from community development program director Paul D’Angelo. The city currently provides funding for affordable projects in four ways: low-interest loans from the Housing Trust Fund, Land Use Incentive Grants based on property taxes, expedited permit review and fee rebates for developments that include affordable homes and administration of federal funds.
In 2019, Council adopted a policy outlining the process and conditions for affordable housing projects on city-owned land. Criteria include reserving at least 20% of the units as affordable to individuals making 60% of the area median income and guaranteeing an affordability period of at least 20 years.
The second half of the work session is slated for a review of upcoming projects and an update on the status of the city’s Affordable Housing Bond. City officials are considering projects on nine city-owned sites for affordable housing investments, all at various points in the development timeline.
In other news
Council’s subsequent regular meeting will be relatively light: No new business is on the agenda, nor are there any scheduled public hearings.
Because North Carolina’s virtual meeting procedures require elected boards to accept comment up to 24 hours after the close of a public hearing, Council members will officially vote on several proposals heard at their meeting of Jan. 12, including a series of rule changes for the city’s Civil Service Board and the closure of two rights-of-ways.
A conditional zoning request by Greensboro-based Samet Corporation to build a 130,000-square-foot warehouse off of Smokey Park Highway in Enka will also return before Council. As of the last meeting, the proposal was missing a traffic study analyzing the facility’s impact on area roads; after review, N.C. Department of Transportation officials concluded the recommendations in the project’s impact assessment appear reasonable.
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 resolutions:
- A $1,061,000 budget amendment to fund a contract extension with Red Roof Inn and Homeward Bound to provide noncongregate shelter for individuals experiencing homelesness. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to reimburse the city for these costs in mid-February.
- A $237,835 contract with WPLaw Fountain Division to repair the SPLASHEVILLE Fountain in Pack Square Park. Project funding is included in the Pack Square maintenance budget; final expenses will not exceed $261,635.
- A change order authorizing over $161,000 in previously unanticipated spending for removal of residuals at the city’s three water treatment facilities. As previously reported by Xpress, the city’s expenses for this need nearly tripled in 2019 due to a ruling from the state Department of Environmental Quality that kept the sludge from being accepted by the Metropolitan Sewerage District.
- Authorization for City Manager Debra Campbell to apply for a $40,000 grant from the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization to prepare a feasibility study for the Reed Creek Greenway.
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 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26. 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 7957; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilJan262021@PublicInput.com. Emails will be accepted for 24 hours after each public hearing.