ASHEVILLE — In the final meeting before two newly elected members join Asheville City Council, on Nov. 28 outgoing Council members Gordon Smith and Cecil Bothwell will get to make a last stand on short-term rentals in the Haywood Road area and have a say on whether a county-owned property on Ferry Road once used unsuccessfully to lure a brewery should be rezoned for housing.
Sheneika Smith and Vijay Kapoor will be sworn in to Council at an organizational meeting on Dec. 5 along with re-elected Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler. But before then, Council has a full agenda for its Nov. 28 meeting.
Council will consider declaring December 2017 as Better Buses Together Month.
In 2011, voters approved a 0.25-cent sales and use tax to go toward capital improvements at A-B Tech. Buncombe County was delegated the authority over that construction, and as it prepares for phase one of renovations to 11 buildings on the campus, a proposal is before City Council to execute an interlocal agreement to allow the county to conduct inspections and permitting.
The city of Asheville uses contractors for unarmed security services in the city’s parking garages in addition to city employees. Council has before it a proposal to award a contract to Atlanta-based Security Innovations Protective Services LLC for a one-year contract for $133,000 with an option to renew for two additional years. Security Innovations submitted the lowest bid of three after a September request for proposals.
A separate resolution on the consent agenda authorizes the city to enter into a contract with Asheville Staffing Resources for temporary employee services in the city’s parking garages and lots. The contract, which was the lower of two bids received, is for $96,000 for the remainder of this fiscal year, with an option to renew for two additional years.
After working on it for the past nine months, the Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council has produced the 2017 Food Policy Goals and Action Plan, which identifies long-term food policy focus areas and goals. The fiscal year 2018 budget already includes $15,000 for the city to continue working with ABFPC to address the action items, and on the consent agenda is a resolution adopting the plan.
The city would like to use $308,235 in remaining federal grants, plus $78,000 in funds from the city’s transit bench and shelters project, to procure hybrid bus batteries and security cameras. The cameras would replace outdated equipment on buses and at transit facilities. The Transportation Department would like to purchase high-definition cameras that will recognize license plate numbers and faces to “monitor suspect activity.”
Buses are expensive, and the city must buy new buses each year to maintain a healthy fleet, according to a staff memo. A consent agenda item authorizes the city manager to apply for funding from the North Carolina Department of Transportation FY 2019 Urban State Match Program to help cover the $4.96 million lifecycle cost of five new buses. The match funding would provide up to 10 percent of that cost.
Council will consider awarding a contract to Mattern & Craig of Asheville in the total amount of $631,097 to design new sidewalks for Patton Avenue, Johnson Boulevard, New Haw Creek Road and Onteora Boulevard. The project was authorized as a 2016 general fund bond project.
Duke Energy Progress offers a Small Business Energy Saver program that pays for energy efficiency upgrades up front, and the city of Asheville will consider participating in the program to purchase and install lighting in its public works building. The total cost of the project to the city would be $55,937, funded from the sustainability budget. Once complete, the more efficient lighting would produce energy savings of $7,753 per year.
Presentations and reports
City Council is slated to hear four reports at its Nov. 28 meeting:
- Update on the city’s debt rating from Moody’s Investor Services.
- Quarterly operating and capital budget reports.
- City Council strategic priorities update.
- City-owned property database update.
Asheville City Council and residents will get a chance to weigh in on the future of an undeveloped, wooded property along Ferry Road and the French Broad River. The site at 1568 Brevard Road once belonged to the city of Asheville, which sold it to Henderson County. Buncombe County purchased the 137-acre parcel in 2015 for $6.8 million in an attempt to attract Deschutes Brewery to set up operations there, a deal that fell through last year.
Now the county is seeking to have the property rezoned for the purpose of selling it for residential development. In September, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval for rezoning the site from industrial to residential multifamily high-density. Asheville City Council gets to decide the matter because the property is considered a satellite annexation due to the city’s time as owner.
In a related item, City Council will consider releasing Buncombe County from a deed restriction requiring that the Ferry Road property be used for an economic development purpose. That release is necessary for the property to be rezoned. The Henderson County Board of Commissioners already agreed to the dismiss the condition.
For the second meeting in a row, City Council will consider whether to allow whole-house, short-term rentals in a neighborhood covered by a form-based zoning code. At the last meeting, Council voted to restrict whole-unit rentals of fewer than 30 days such as those listed on Airbnb and VRBO in the River Arts District. On Nov. 28, it will look at STRs in the area around Haywood Road in West Asheville.
The Haywood Road form-based code, implemented in 2014, covers a district that runs 2.5 miles from near the French Broad River to Patton Avenue and provides for six different types of zoning. At its October meeting, Council heard from city staff, which recommends several changes to the code to allow greater flexibility in development, including an expansion of the area of West Asheville in which short-term rentals would be a permitted use. At that time, Council directed staff to create a new district that would not permit lodging facilities. Council sent the item back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for review and solicited more feedback on whether short-term rentals should be allowed along the corridor at all.
At its November meeting, Planning and Zoning voted to continue permitting lodging of 20 rooms or fewer in the areas where they are already allowed. (Council must already review any lodging uses of 21 rooms or more.) Now, Council must decide whether to pass the changes to the Haywood Road form-based code while permitting or not permitting short-term rentals as a use-by-right.
The city received an unsolicited bid to purchase 0.38 acres at 427 Broadway St. from Reed Creek Greenway Plaza, which currently owns an adjacent former gas station. The company is seeking assemble the site into a larger property for mixed-used redevelopment. The city negotiated a purchase price of $115,000 plus an affordable housing deed restriction that requires the the construction of 20 percent affordable rental units within the development, with a minimum of eight units.
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.