Council to vote on affordable housing, infill strategies

At its Tuesday, Aug. 22 meeting, Asheville City Council will consider a resolution condemning the actions of white supremacists and racial violence in Charlottesville, Va., and asking Council’s Governance Committee to take a closer look at the city’s historical monuments.

In part, the proclamation reads:

“Be it resolved that: The Asheville City Council do hereby reject the message of all hate groups; renounce racism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, the KKK, neo-Nazis, domestic terrorism and hatred; declare that those who want to spread hatred, bigotry and violence have no place in the city of Asheville; and commit to ensuring that Asheville remains a place of love and compassion, where hate is not, and will never be, welcome.

“Furthermore, be it resolved that: The Asheville City Council does hereby task the Governance Committee, with timely review of policy recommendations in furtherance of this Resolution, including, but not limited to the review and consideration of the relevant General Statutes and other applicable laws related to historical markers and monuments on city property.”

Consent agenda

Items Council will consider as part of its consent agenda include setting a public hearing for Sept. 12 to consider authorizing the city to refinance a portion of its 2012 and 2016 limited obligation bonds. The city must apply to the Local Government Commission for permission to issue limited obligation refunding bonds and special obligation refunding bonds.

Presentations and reports

The city’s new Equity and Inclusion Manager, Kimberlee Archie, will be introduced at the meeting. Archie stepped into the newly created role on July 31.

Council will receive a quarterly update on the Interstate 26 Connector project, a freeway that would connect I-26 in southwest Asheville to U.S. Highway 19/23/70 in northwest Asheville. The project has been in the works since 1989 and the N.C. Department of Transportation is currently working to refine its design.

Six months ago, City Council voted to change its process for reviewing Level III projects to give the city more oversight of downtown development projects and hotels and to require developers to meet with project neighbors before applying for permits. At the Aug. 22 meeting, Todd Okolichany, the city’s planning and urban design director, will give an update on the topic, including an overview of the three applications affected by the zoning amendment that have come in since adopting the change.

Public hearings

The first item on Council’s public hearings agenda, an amendment to the city’s zoning code to establish screening requirements for utility substations, will be continued to Council’s Sept. 26 meeting.

Council will consider conditional zoning of property located at 175 Lyman St. in the River Arts District for the development of a 133-unit apartment complex, commercial space, a restaurant and a parking structure. Now the location of J.R. Stone Sales, the property is adjacent to the future location of a roundabout to be built where the road takes a sharp bend. In June, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend City Council approve the zoning request after considering the project’s location on a floodplain and lack of affordable units.

According to an Aug. 11 article in the Asheville Citizen-Times, Council members say the provision of affordable units will be a key factor in Council’s vote on the project.

A public hearing will be held to discuss conditional zoning for a proposed 20-home development in the Shiloh community, which lies between Hendersonville and Sweeten Creek roads just south of Interstate 40. Mountain Housing Opportunities is requesting conditional zoning to reduce the minimum lot size from 5,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet and minimum lot width from 50 feet to 40 feet. The Planning and Zoning Commission voted in July to recommend approval.

A proposal to build a five-story, 103-room hotel at 49 Tunnel Road will go before the City Council for approval. At its July 20 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that Council move the project forward with the condition that its designers incorporate 15 percent open space into the plans.

City Council will consider wording amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance that are intended to encourage more small-scale infill housing citywide. Council asked city staff to explore the issue in February 2016. The changes would reduce the minimum width of lots and incentivize duplexes and neighborhood-scale multifamily development. In particular, the proposed changes would —

  • reduce the minimum lot width for parcels in all residential districts by 20 percent.
  • for multifamily zoning districts, update the density standards to allow extra multifamily units.
  • make changes to the UDO to clarify the related regulations.

Unfinished business

Council will decide whether to proceed with a particular concept for phase one of the River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project that involves building a 10- to 12-foot-wide multiuse path adjacent to the French Broad River along Lyman Street. Under this plan, existing on-street bike lanes will remain. This concept has already been bid, and was approved by City Council.

The city continues to pursue the implementation of temporary uses of vacant property at 68 Haywood St. downtown. In order to encourage use of the space for pop-up events, Council will consider fee waivers for nine programs that were selected out of a pool of submissions to hold events through December 2018. A staff memo states that the fiscal impact of waiving the fees would be $23,914 in lost administrative revenue.

A November bond package passed by voters included $25 million for affordable housing, and now City Council will consider how to allocate $10 million in bond funds for direct project investment, in anticipation of General Obligation Housing Bonds being issued. The Housing and Community Development Committee recommends the following breakdown:

  • Housing Trust Fund: $5 million
  • Land banking: $3 million
  • Community Land Trust startup: $1 million
  • Down payment assistance: $1 million

New business

In the new business portion of its meeting, Council will vote on whether to repeal an outdated resolution related to the Americans with Disabilities Act and instead implement a new administrative policy to guide staff on ADA matters. At issue is the fact that Council passed a resolution in 1995 to create an ADA Committee composed of citizens to consider, respond to and address ADA Title II complaints asserted against the city related to citizen access to city services, programs, facilities and public transportation. Yet according to a staff memo, there is not a current ADA Committee nor has it convened in many years.

Council will also discuss confirmation of questions for candidates for the Planning and Zoning Commission as well as make decide which candidates to interview for vacancies on the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, Multimodal Transportation Commission, Public Art and Cultural Commission, Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment, and the Tourism Development Authority.

Public comment

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.

For more of the latest city and county news, check out Xpress’ Buncombe Beat.

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About Carolyn Morrisroe
Carolyn Morrisroe served as news editor and reporter at Mountain Xpress. Follow me @CarolynMorrisro

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