ASHEVILLE — The River Arts District will again take the spotlight at the next Asheville City Council meeting, on Tuesday, Nov. 14. First onstage will be the Stoneyard Apartments project, followed in the revue by whether or not to allow short-term lodging in the RAD, and ending with an encore production of parking concerns.
Asheville City Council will designate Nov. 11-19 as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
Council will consider a motion to expedite the capital improvement project budget timetable to give Council the opportunity for more feedback earlier in the overall budget process.
In fiscal year 2016-17, Asheville allocated more than $148,000 in Emergency Solutions Grant funds to various agencies working to address homelessness. A finance subcommittee has since reviewed the projects and came up with a list of proposed recipients of next year’s grant funds, if they are again awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. On the consent agenda is a resolution to apply for ESG funds and distribute them to Helpmate, Homeward Bound of WNC, the Salvation Army and the city’s Homeless Information Management System.
Earlier this year, Council voted to increase the city’s matching contribution to the retirement plans for the firefighters of Asheville Fire and Rescue from 2 percent to 4 percent. Human Resources has since found that doing so necessitates replacing the department’s existing 401(a) plan with a 457(b) deferred compensation plan so firefighters still have the option of not contributing the full 4 percent from their salaries. An item on the consent agenda authorizes switching the retirement plan type.
Council will consider allotting $43,000 of already-awarded grant funds from the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program for a DWI simulator and training for the Asheville Police Department.
Also on the consent agenda is a budget amendment of $402,331 to pay for one additional year of the DWI Task Force, a joint effort of the Asheville Police Department and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office. The task force began operating in 2014 after receiving a grant from the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program. The city of Asheville will match 75 percent of its portion with $200,494, and Buncombe County will match 75 percent of its portion with $101,254. That money will go toward the salaries for six officers focusing on DWI enforcement.
Presentations and reports
Council will hear updates from the Neighborhood Advisory Committee and Blue Ribbon Committee on the Human Relations Commission.
At its Oct. 6 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of a request by Duncan Haggart to rezone his property at 12 Miami Circle, off Long Shoals Road in Arden, from an institutional zone to a community business II conditional zone for the purpose of constructing a drive-thru window at the Pizza Hut. City Council will hold a public hearing on the matter on Nov. 14.
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 for the Stoneyard Apartments after considering the project’s location on a floodplain and lack of affordable units. Council was slated to hold a hearing on the project in August but continued the matter at the applicant’s request.
A plan to institute a form-based zoning code in the River Arts District is slated again to be heard at City Council. The code, two years in the making, would create seven districts in the RAD designed to create a healthy mix of development. In July, Council voted 4-3 in favor of the zoning code, directing staff to take out lodging facilities of 20 rooms or fewer as a use-by-right from the mixed-use districts. Council remanded the code back to the Planning and Zoning Commission to get further public input on lodging uses. P&Z took up the question at its Sept. 6 meeting and rejected Council’s suggestion to remove lodging as a permitted use, favoring retaining the original draft of the zoning plan.
Another public hearing will take up the question of whether to get rid of reduced parking standards in the River Arts District, a reduction that was adopted in 2011 before RAD’s resurgence prompted calls for more parking availability in the neighborhood.
The RAD form-based code and parking proposals were scheduled to come back to City Council on Oct. 24, but at that meeting Mayor Esther Manheimer requested a continuation of those agenda items. Manheimer, an attorney, said she had been made aware that there was a challenge to her ability to vote on the River Arts District form-based code that required her to consult with the Bar Association.
Council will decide who to interview for the ABC Board, Firemen’s Relief Fund and Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee.
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.