In keeping with the autumn harvest season, Asheville City Council will feast on a cornucopia of topics at its Oct. 3 meeting, including dam improvement, Haywood Road development and the business impact of special events.
Council will declare Oct. 5 “Energy Efficiency Day” and Oct. 7 “Womansong Day.”
As part of its consent agenda, City Council will vote on resolutions to issue new limited and special obligation bonds. The Council held public hearings on the bonds at its Sept. 12 meeting. The proposed package includes refinancing a portion of the 2016 limited obligation bond (approximately $18 million), refinancing all or a portion of the currently outstanding 2012 LOBs ($11.7 million), and applying to the Local Government Commission for up to $31.2 million in limited obligation refunding bonds. Council will also vote on applying to the LGC for the issuance of up to $20 million in special obligation refunding bonds.
Construction on improvements at the North Fork Reservoir dam will move ahead if City Council approves a $40.2 million construction agreement with Phillips & Jordan Inc. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is requiring the city to build a second spillway at the dam, which dates to 1955, to increase safety in the event of an emergency. Phillips & Jordan submitted the lowest of six bids received by the city; the total project budget includes the company’s bid of $34.9 million plus a contingency amount of $5.2 million. (For more information on the project, see “North Fork Reservoir dam to get major improvements.”)
The city will decide whether to give the city manager the go-ahead to advertise for upset bids for the sale of 10.37 acres of property at 550 New Airport Road to AVL Holdings LLC, and if no other bids are received or accepted, to proceed with the sale of the property. In 1980, the city entered into a 60-year ground lease for the property, which since 1983 has been leased to hotels operated under various names. The city receives 4.5 percent of gross receipts per year in ground rent; in the most recent fiscal year, it received an annual sum of $161,250. The current tenant has bid to purchase the property for $7.16 million.
Council will make a decision on a revision to its fee grant program for affordable housing. The changes to the program, which works to incentivize affordable homeownership, include federal HOME for-sale price limits with a gap subsidy and a lower for-sale price limit.
In its consent agenda, the city announces a request to rename the Montford Recreation Center to the Tempie Avery Community Center to honor a prominent African-American nurse, midwife and former slave of the Nicholas Woodfin family who lived at the site. The request has already received the support of the Historic Resources Commission, African American Heritage Commission, Recreation Board and Montford Neighborhood Association. As part of the city’s renaming policy, after the announcement of the request, City Council may may solicit the advice of surrounding property owners, residents, affected parties and other officials prior to voting on the name change at its next meeting.
Council will look at a budget amendment of $324,507 to set up the project budgets for the Enhanced Mobility of Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities federal grant. The grant program works to improve mobility for seniors and individuals with disabilities by removing barriers to transportation service and expanding transportation mobility options. In January, five recipients were selected to receive the funds; the city must now set up project projects in order to pass the funds to those programs.
Christmas shoppers will get a slight reprieve from parking fees if Council approves the last item on its consent agenda: a voucher program offering one additional free hour of parking in city garages on six Saturdays between the Holiday Parade and Christmas. Downtown merchants interested in participating would give out the vouchers to customers. The cost to the city would be $4,500 in lost revenue to the Parking Enterprise Fund.
Presentations and reports
Council will hear a report on a study it commissioned last year to look at the entrepreneurial impact of outdoor special events and festivals. As special events become more frequent in Asheville, the study aims to see how local government and entrepreneurs can best use these events to encourage business growth and spending.
The Haywood Road form-based code, implemented in 2014, covers a district that runs 2.5 miles from near the French Broad River to Patton Avenue, and provides for six different types of zoning. Now, city staff are recommending several changes to the code to allow greater flexibility in development. Proposed changes include:
- Reductions of the build-to-zone requirement, the percentage of a parcel that must be covered by a compliant building, from 80-90 percent down to 70 percent and to a minimum of 25 feet in depth on side streets.
- Adjustments to allowed building setbacks.
- A decrease in the allowed floor-to-floor minimum heights of buildings.
- Changes to rules on outdoor amenities spaces and streetscapes.
Further changes to the Haywood Road code would allow bed-and-breakfasts and homestays in the core, update permitted lodging uses to be in line with the city’s new 21-room review threshold, and remove use by right and single-family use for the corridor.
A separate agenda item would rezone 43 parcels along the north and south sides of Haywood Road closest to the French Broad River from live-work to traditional. The lots on the south side are currently undeveloped and the north side has a mix of uses. According to a staff report, the current live-work zoning dates back to the advent of the Haywood Road form-based code in 2014, when planners were concerned about being left with vacant lots if there was not development interest in the area. The intervening years have seen a flurry of businesses opening in the area, however, which leads staff to think it’s time to allow a larger range of commercial activities.
Last month, New Classical Academy got the tentative go-ahead from the Planning and Zoning Commission to rezone its property at 671 Sand Hill Road from institutional-conditional to residential multifamily low-density so that the school can expand. That proposal, put forth developer Barry Bialik, now comes before City Council.
The last public hearing at Council’s Oct. 3 meeting will look at amending the 2017-18 Consolidated Annual Action Plan for Community Development Block Grant and HOME Funds to allocate $12,923 to Asheville Habitat for Humanity and $27,989 to Green Opportunities from contingency funds.
Council will consider appointing new members to the Planning and Zoning Commission to replace Jeremy Goldstein and Kristy Carter, who both served two terms (the maximum allowed) on the commission. Council will also consider whether to reappoint Laura Berner Hudson, whose first term expired in August.
Council will hear comment from members of the public on items not previously discussed on Council’s agenda.
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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