After three years of debate on how Asheville should handle issues of noise, City Council may finally settle the matter on Tuesday, July 27. Scheduled for a vote at Council’s regular meeting is a series of revisions to the city’s noise ordinance that would set specific decibel levels for downtown, as well as commercial and industrial areas, as measured from any property away from the source of the noise.
The downtown decibel limits now outlined by city staff partially reflect the recommendations of the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods, which has raised concerns about the negative health impacts of excessive noise. Daytime noise would be capped at 72 decibels, down from a previous proposal of 75 decibels but higher than CAN’s initial proposal of 65 decibels. (Decibels are logarithmic in scale, so a 10-decibel increase roughly equals a tripling of intensity.)
Outdoor music venues and other event organizers could apply for sound exceedance permits to be louder than those limits on a certain number of days per year. Violations would primarily be reviewed by the city’s Development Services Department and punished through civil penalties.
If approved, the new regulations would likely not go into effect immediately. City staff has requested at least 30 days after the rules pass “to provide adequate time for the establishment of a noise advisory board, the hiring of two staff positions, collection of additional data and establishment of a sound exceedance permitting program.”
Final hearing on Charlotte Street development postponed
One of the most-discussed projects in the history of the Mountain Xpress opinion section will wait another month before Council renders a final judgement. Although the July 27 meeting agenda includes consideration of a land use incentive grant and rezoning application for a roughly 211,000-square-foot mixed-use development on Charlotte Street, City Clerk Maggie Burleson confirmed on July 23 that voting would be postponed until Tuesday, Aug. 24.
Jill Lieberman, a spokesperson for RCG-Killian Chestnut Residential Properties, wrote in a statement to local media that the developers had requested the pause to better incorporate community input. “We have received feedback from multiple stakeholders and interested parties over the past few weeks regarding our plans for 101 Charlotte Street. We have been evaluating that feedback, and because we want to make this the best possible project for the Asheville community, we have asked the city to postpone our conditional zoning hearing,” she wrote. “This will give our team more time for a thorough review. We look forward to moving forward with 101 Charlotte Street and thank everyone for their input.”
Another large project, however, is still slated for Council votes on July 27. Millstone Management is seeking conditional zoning approval to construct 87 housing units on 2.85 acres at 66 Long Shoals Road. The developer has also applied for an incentive grant of more than $830,000 to subsidize 17 of the project’s apartments as affordable for residents making 80% of the area median income ($60,100 for a family of four).
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains 22 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- A resolution authorizing over $855,000 in additional spending on shelter at area hotels for people experiencing homelessness. The money will come from the city’s $26.2 million allocation from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
- A contract of over $286,000 with Asheville-based Vaughn and Melton Consulting Engineers for design work on repairs to Vance Gap Road. The road incurred a slope failure in April following heavy rains.
- A resolution authorizing City Manager Debra Campbell to enter an agreement with Buncombe County for a homeowner grant program. Asheville has allocated $150,000 toward the effort and will provide eligible residents with up to $200 each to cover increases in this year’s city property tax.
The meeting will take place in the Banquet Hall at Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville, located at 87 Haywood St., at 5 p.m. Proceedings can also be accessed via phone (855-925-2801, meeting code 8378), as well as through the city’s YouTube Channel, for those who cannot or do not wish to participate in person.
Prior to the regular meeting, Council will hold a work session in the same location at 2:30 p.m. to discuss the city’s American Rescue Plan Act summary plan. The proceedings may be accessed by phone (855-925-2801, meeting code 4424) or online; public comment will not be accepted.
Commenters wishing to speak live at the regular meeting are required to attend in person and are encouraged to sign up at the door. The city continues to accept email (AshevilleCityCouncilJuly272021@publicinput.com) and voicemail (855-925-2801, meeting code 8378) comments through 9 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found at this link.