Council to set Fletcher annexation groundwork at Feb. 25 meeting

Asheville city seal

At its regular meeting of Tuesday, Feb. 25, Asheville City Council will consider the first step in making the city just a little bit bigger. After a public hearing, Council members will vote on an annexation agreement with the town of Fletcher in Henderson County. If approved, Fletcher officials will agree not to claim a 2-acre piece of unincorporated Buncombe County for 20 years, clearing the way for Asheville’s newest addition.

Under a state law passed in 2013 and sponsored by former Reps. Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey, both R-Buncombe, Asheville is forbidden from involuntarily annexing territory. However, that law does not prevent voluntary annexation, in which the owner of an unincorporated property submits a petition to become part of a city. The property then becomes eligible to receive city services and is added to the city’s tax rolls.

Bharti Patel, the owner of a Holiday Inn and Suites near the Asheville Regional Airport, is currently seeking annexation by Asheville. His hotel sits just 55 feet from current Asheville city limits, but because Fletcher’s limits are only 35 feet away, the Henderson County town had first dibs on the property. Fletcher’s Town Council approved the annexation agreement with Asheville on Feb. 3.

If Asheville’s Council members approve the agreement, the board must still hold separate public hearings to actually annex the property and rezone it for hotel use. According to a staff report available before the meeting, the property would generate roughly $56,000 annually in property tax revenue.

In other news

The minds behind the RAD Lofts Project have requested two more weeks to work on their proposal for revised affordability conditions, which developer Harry Pilos first proposed at Council’s Jan. 14 meeting but withdrew after more than an hour of discussion. Pilos had claimed that the affordable housing promises on 235 units he’d previously made to get approval for the project were no longer feasible under current market conditions.

And Council will declare Feb. 25 to be “Iannucci’s Pizzeria & Italian Appreciation Day.” The popular eatery on Hendersonville Road in South Asheville, owned by Nick and Danielle Iannucci, closed Dec. 31 after more than 40 years in business.

Consent agenda

Council’s 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:

  • Approve a nearly $150,000 contract with Mooresboro-based Piedmont Utility to construct the Reed Creek Greenway Extension. The project will lengthen the existing greenway to the south by roughly .2 miles from Magnolia Avenue to Elizabeth Street in the Five Points neighborhood.
  • Amend an existing contract with Raleigh-based IBI Group by $79,750 to fund a facilities study for the ART Transit Garage. The study, called for as part of the 2018 Transit Master Plan, would estimate the cost of a new garage to house the planned doubling of the city’s bus fleet from 26 to 52 vehicles by 2030.
  • Execute a contract of up to $50,000 with New York-based Hazen and Sawyer to conduct a study on unidirectional flushing in the Asheville water system. The project will “address issues with discolored water that sometimes occurs after water main breaks or intermittent, large changes with system demand,” according to a staff report available before the meeting.

Council will hold a separate work session at 3 p.m. in the same location to discuss the findings of the Urban Land Institute regarding new hotel and tourism rules. No documents for the work session were available as of press time; the full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link.

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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the Green Scene editor and a reporter for Mountain Xpress. His work has previously appeared in Capital at Play, Edible Asheville, and the Citizen-Times, among other area publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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