Asheville residents might want to start getting into the habit of leaving reusable grocery bags in the car.
Members of Asheville City Council will take the first steps in considering an ordinance that would regulate single-use plastic throughout the city during their regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 11. Developed by Plastic-Free WNC, a coalition of environmental nonprofits including MountainTrue and the WNC Sierra Club, the ordinance would ban plastic bags and plastic foam products while establishing a 10-cent fee on paper bags. (People using federal food benefits such as SNAP would be exempt from the fee.)
According to a presentation available before the meeting, city staff recommends a phased approach to creating and implementing the ordinance. The first phase, which could be voted on as early as December, would prohibit the use of plastic bags for curbside leaf collection.
The presentation says that “no current precedent for an ordinance banning plastic bags exists in North Carolina” but that city legal staffers believeCouncil can regulate single-use plastic. The legality of the 10-cent fee on paper bags, the presentation continues, “will require additional research.”
The city did not mention a previous plastic bag ban that passed at the state level in 2009. That ban, requested by several communities in the Outer Banks, was repealed by a Republican-dominated General Assembly in 2017.
If Council gives the go-ahead, the city would begin a two-month internal research and engagement process to determine the ban’s impact to city operations and identify missing demographic groups to survey about the proposal. A public input survey would follow, then a six-month period to “review and refine engagement.” A final recommendation on a more extensive plastic ban ordinance would then be slated for October 2023.
In other news
Council members will also hold a public hearing to consider a conditional zoning that would allow for the construction of a 72-unit townhome development near the Malvern Hills neighborhood. Four of those units would be designated as affordable to those earning at or below 80% of the area median income ($45,000 for an individual; $64,250 for a family of four) for a minimum of 20 years; two of those units would also accept housing choice vouchers.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains five items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- A resolution authorizing City Manager Debra Campbell to enter into an agreement with the N.C. Department of Transportation to install a traffic signal at the intersection of South Charlotte Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The city is responsible for funding the traffic signal’s design, materials and installation at $7,500, but the NCDOT will manage and own the signal.
- A resolution authorizing Campbell to increase a contract with Daikin Applied Americas Inc. by $265,000 for repairs to the chiller at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville. City staffers say the upgrades would allow the chiller to operate for another 15-20 years and avoid the need for a $1.7 million new unit.
- A resolution authorizing Campbell to execute a 10-year lease agreement with the NCDOT for a facility at 81 Thompson Street to house the city’s Parks Maintenance Division, which is currently located at 8 Hunt Hill Place. The proposed rental rate is roughly $11,000 per month and will increase by 2% per year increase.
Council members will gather in their chambers on the second floor of City Hall, located at 70 Court Plaza, starting at 5 p.m. The meeting will also be carried live on Charter/Spectrum Channel 193 and livestreamed through Asheville’s public engagement hub and on the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public can also listen live by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code 2147.
Those who wish to speak during the meeting must attend in person and sign up at the door. No live remote comment will be permitted. Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 2147; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilOct112022@PublicInput.com until 9 a.m. Oct. 11. General comments for City Council can be sent at any time to AshevilleNCCouncil@AshevilleNC.gov.
The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.