Saluda Grade line in Saluda

Green in brief: Nonprofits plan conversion of Saluda Grade into trail

The path, running along an inactive railway, would stretch about 31 miles northwest from Inman, S.C., through Tryon and Saluda before terminating in Zirconia, about 7 miles southeast of Hendersonville. Hendersonville-based Conserving Carolina; Greenville, S.C.-based Upstate Forever; and Spartanburg, S.C.-based PAL are leading the effort.

Ashley Woods entrance

How do traffic impact studies shape developmen­t decisions?

Traffic studies, which are required by the state and the county for certain projects, are prepared by engineering firms to forecast additional traffic associated with a development and identify possible problems. But some neighborhood groups question the benefits of research paid for by the very people who stand to benefit from a proposed project.

A closer look at Buncombe’s commercial property assessment­s

Issues of racial and economic equity dominated the debate over residential valuations, with critics arguing that Buncombe’s practices are unfair to low-income residents and communities of color. While those issues aren’t immediately apparent with commercial property, suggests ad hoc committee member Ori Baber, other deficiencies with county assessments likely do carry over from the residential side.

Poverty rate graphics for Buncombe County

Buncombe leaders talk rising poverty, county economy

According to data presented by Tim Love, Buncombe’s director of economic development and governmental relations, the county’s poverty rate went up from about 11.5% in 2018 — its lowest point in a decade — to about 13.9% in 2020, the latest year for which information was available. Poverty in both North Carolina and the overall U.S. fell over the same period.

Enka Commerce Park new plans

Developmen­t roundup: Enka Commerce Park requests change of plans

Enka Partners of Asheville requests an amendment to the conditional zoning on 45.5 acres on Enka Heritage Parkway to allow for new site plans. Because a tenant expected to lease the space — widely suspected to be online retailer Amazon, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times — backed out, the plans have been redesigned to call for over 585,000 square feet of spec space.

Buncombe County seal

Commission to vote on extending health department COVID support

After a nearly four-hour session on July 19, the Buncombe Board of Commissioners will navigate through a shorter agenda for the Aug. 2 meeting. A series of budget amendments comprise the new business schedule. The board will vote on whether to distribute $1.2 million of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funds to extend […]

Ori Baber

Commission­ers consider equity through reparation­s, property taxes

The county’s ad hoc reappraisal committee, tasked with reviewing allegations that Buncombe’s tax assessment process was unfair to low-income residents and communities of color, presented its recommendations to the board. And commissioners approved annual funding for reparations, honoring a request from the joint Asheville-Buncombe Community Reparations Commission.

Asheville Planning and Zoning Commission

Are local developmen­t boards diverse enough?

“The thinking used to be, you put some architects on there. And you’d want to have a real estate investor, or a developer, or someone who’s a real estate agent, or you’d have some prominent business owner,” says Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer. “We’ve recognized that you need a Planning and Zoning Commission that’s more reflective of your community.”