The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will consider approving purchase of 360 acres of private property at its Tuesday, Feb. 6 meeting. If authorized, the county will spend $400,000 on two conservation easements — the first easements funded by the 2022 open space bonds, according to a staff presentation.
Near Black Mountain, the county could conserve 336 acres in the mountains above Lake Eden for $250,000 of bond funds. The tract was marked as a “top priority” conservation candidate by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, according to the presentation. It is bounded by three ridgelines, contains seven headwaters, is home to four rare species and is adjacent to the grounds of the Lake Eden Arts Festival, or LEAF.
Full market value for the land is $3 million, but the seller is offering it to the county for $1.5 million to put it into a conservation easement. The majority of the cost is covered by a $550,000 grant from the N.C. Land and Water Fund and a $700,000 donation from a private philanthropist.
The other property is 30 acres of a working farm on South Turkey Creek Road near Leicester. It contains 54% prime agricultural soils and South Turkey Creek runs through the property. Conservation of the tract is time sensitive because the seller is an elderly landowner, according to staff’s review.
If approved, $150,000 of bond funds will be used on conservation of the Leicester farm.
In other news
Funding from the Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus Program is drying up.
Commissioners will hold a public hearing at their Feb. 6 meeting to close out the program, which spent about $496,000 of its $900,000 budget on mortgage and utility payment assistance for Buncombe County residents, according to county documents. The grant period ended June 2023.
Among other rules that limited eligible recipients, residents in Asheville city limits were not eligible for funds, and no other COVID-related economic assistance programs could be available to program fund recipients, according to staff documents.
The consent agenda for the meeting contains ten items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- Approval of a grant to accept an annual allocation of $94,000 from N.C. Emergency Management for operation of an Urban Search and Rescue team operated by the county.
- Approval of a budget amendment to reimburse Emergency Services for $121,770 for a mission by the N.C. Urban Search and Rescue Task Force to assist with flooding in Vermont. Funds come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
- Approval of a contract with Providence Construction Group, Inc. to construct a restroom facility addition at the Enka Sports Park for $666,250. The initial bid for the project was for about $694,000, which would exceed the budget, but General Services and the design firm were able to negotiate the construction bid down through a value engineering session, according to county documents.
The full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. There will be a briefing meeting proceeding the regular meeting at 3 pm. The agenda was not posted as of press time.
In-person public comment will be taken at the start of the regular meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. in room 326 at 200 College St., Asheville; no voicemail or email comments will be permitted. Both the briefing and the regular meeting will be livestreamed on the county’s Facebook page and will subsequently be available via YouTube.