County Commissioners to hear property acquisition request, rezoning and legislative updates

Nonprofit agencies will make their case for funding from Buncombe County's upcoming budget for Fiscal Year 2018. A total of 46 nonprofits are asking for an aggregate of almost $11 million.

Two public hearings will be held at the April 7 Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting, one on a Ferry Road property acquisition and the other a rezoning request for Monticello Road.

The board will then hear a resolution on recording closed sessions, the state of Asheville Regional Airport, a new legislative update and a tax penalty waiver request.

First up on the agenda, though, the board will proclaim April as Child Abuse Awareness Month and Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month.

“The problem of child abuse and neglect affects many of Buncombe County’s children and has reached epidemic proportions in North Carolina. Over 129,000 reports were investigated for abuse and neglect last year,” reads a county release on the subject.

“Last year, the county’s Health and Human Services Department received 4,687 reports of child abuse and neglect right here in Buncombe County. Research shows that complex problems such as child abuse and neglect require coordinated efforts across multiple disciplines, including mental health, domestic violence, substance abuse, child advocacy, school nursing and public health.  Buncombe County is committed to coordinating and aligning our resources with community partners so we are focused on evidence-informed best practices with demonstrated improved outcomes.”

The agenda did not offer statistics on the extent of Buncombe County’s Parkinson’s disease reach but states that the illness affects 1.5 million people in the United States.

Following this announcement, the board will open up to a public hearing.

The board will consider purchasing a 137-acre tract along Ferry Road in Bent Creek from Henderson County, which has already approved Buncombe’s offered amount of $6.8 million, acquired from the budget’s general fund. In accordance with the interlocal agreement between Henderson County and the city of Asheville, the net cost for Buncombe County amounts to $3.4 million.

“Buncombe County has been working with a potential economic development partner, which is considering expanding its operations into [this county],” reads the resolution. “This project requires a large tract with nearby highway access.”

The board intends to approve the acquisition of this property.

Moving on to the rezoning request, Bruce C. Jones for the Ada Gibbs estate requests that 31 Monticello Road in Weaverville, currently an R-3 residential district, be rezoned to a CS commercial service district. The county Planning Board recommends the approval of the request, based on its proximity to the highway and other commercial spaces, saying the request is both reasonable and in the public interest.

Asheville Regional Airport will then provide an update on recent developments, and then commissioners will review a resolution opposing Senate Bill 369. If passed, the bill would make a “potentially huge financial impact to the taxpayers of Buncombe County” and “would fundamentally restructure the county‐levied sales tax system by converting the … delivery taxes into a state sales tax for distribution to counties and cities based on population. These reallocations would be phased in over years, and preliminary estimates prepared by the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners show that, when compared to current law, S369 would decrease these Buncombe County sales tax revenues used for budgeting by more than $15.5 million. And the city of Asheville would see a reduction of over $4 million.”

Following the bill opposition discussion, James and Susan Murray, owners of the Carolina Bed & Breakfast, are requesting a waiver for a $201 tax penalty, resulting from a miscommunication on where to drop off their business’s occupancy tax check. For five years, the owners had dropped off the checks in one location. Unbeknownst to them, the checks then had to be mailed to the correct location. This is the first time the misunderstanding has been communicated with the owners, in the form of a $201 late penalty. Because the owners were never told to do otherwise, they are asking for a waiver for this one instance and have since corrected the practice. The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority heard the request and approved it in a 3-1 vote, sending it on to the Board of Commissioners for final approval.

Last on the agenda is a resolution to adopt a policy for recording closed county sessions. The board proposes that all closed sessions would be recorded either with video or sound. The recorded minutes would then be made public record, so long as making the record public does not interfere with the purpose of the meeting.

The board will then go into the consent agenda and adjourn.

The meeting will be held Tuesday, April 7, at 4:30 p.m. on the third floor of 200 College St. For the full agenda, click here.

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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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