Asheville City Council is on track to beat a record this year. At their meeting of Tuesday, July 26, members will vote on whether to approve their third land use incentive grant of 2022. If they pass the measure, 2022 will have seen the most LUIG action since the affordable housing program was established.
As reported in Xpress’ latest WTF (Want the Facts) feature, LUIG is designed to encourage affordable housing by offering rebates on the property tax increase resulting from development. Asheville has awarded one or two such grants to eligible developers each year since 2015.
According to a staff report available before the meeting, the development to be considered for the grant, located at 221 Long Shoals Road in South Asheville, will contain 186 apartments across three four- to five-story buildings. The development will also include off-street parking, a playground, a swimming pool and access to Lake Julian.
Of those apartments, 20% (about 37 units) will be designated as affordable to residents earning 80% of the area median income ($45,000 for a single person or $64,250 for a family of four) for a minimum of 20 years. The property owner will also accept housing choice vouchers for 19 of the affordable units; vouchers generally benefit those earning 50% AMI ($28,150 per year for an individual or $40,150 per year for a family of four) or below.
Per the city’s LUIG scoring matrix, which evaluates residential projects based on factors such as affordability, access to bus lines and proximity to schools, the development is eligible for 17 years of tax rebates totaling over $1.55 million, or roughly $42,000 per unit.
Following the LUIG vote, Council will consider approval of a conditional zoning for the property. The site is currently zoned Community Business II but must be rezoned as Residential Expansion due to the size of the development.
In other news
Council will also on whether to accept recommendations for grant awards for the Strategic Partnership Pilot Grant Program. If approved, the program will award eight agencies grants of at least $20,000 to address the opportunity gap for low- to moderate-income youths, for a total of $375,500.
The largest recommended award is $80,000 to Positive Opportunities Develop Success, or PODS. Led by Asheville nonprofit CHOSEN, the program offers educational support to Asheville City School students, with a focus on students of color. (As previously reported by Xpress, about 75% of students in PODS last year were Black, more than three times the percentage of Black students in the ACS system.)
Council will also hold a public hearing to update the city’s Unified Development Ordinance to include revisions to the city’s open space requirements. The updates, according to city staff, are meant to encourage the construction of affordable housing by reducing and simplifying building regulations and incentivizing stormwater management; the new rules would also strengthen open space protections in the River Arts District.
The proposal has driven extensive commentary in the pages of Xpress over recent months. Perrin de Jong, a member of the city’s Urban Forestry Commission, wrote a December opinion piece against the new rules, while Susan Bean with Asheville-based nonprofit MountainTrue came out in support in March.
Consent agenda and public comment
The consent agenda for the meeting contains 17 items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:
- A series of resolutions related to the Advanced Metering Infrastructure Project, which aims to replace Asheville’s 63,000-unit water metering system, currently read using drive-by automated radio technology, with meters that will automatically transmit water usage data. The resolutions include a budget amendment of about $8.8 million, bringing the total cost of the project to $28.7 million.
- A resolution authorizing City Manager Debra Campbell to execute a roughly $758,000 contract with Burnsville-based Bryant’s Land and Development Industries to repave 2.32 miles of city streets. The work will include sections of College Street near downtown, North Bear Creek Road in West Asheville and Lookout Road in North Asheville, among others.
- A resolution authorizing Campbell to amend the existing Transit Operations and Maintenance Contract between the city and RATPDev USA for operation of the Asheville Rides Transit bus system. Changes include a more than $400,000 increase to cover higher operational costs and monthly fixed fees, as well as $551,000 to reflect a $2 hourly wage increase for RATPDev staff. The resulting total contract for fiscal year 2022-23 will be roughly $10.1 million.
- A resolution joining the city of Asheville in an amicus brief to support the state of Colorado in a Colorado Supreme Court case that challenges that state’s antidiscrimination law. A ruling against the Colorado state law could affect Asheville’s local nondiscrimination ordinance, which was adopted last year.
Council members will gather in their chambers on the second floor of City Hall, located at 70 Court Plaza, starting at 5 p.m. The meeting will also be carried live on Charter/Spectrum Channel 193 and livestreamed through Asheville’s public engagement hub and on the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public can also listen live by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code 6791.
Those who wish to speak during the meeting must attend in person and sign up at the door. No live remote comment will be permitted. Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 6791; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilJuly262022@PublicInput.com until 9 a.m. July 26. General comments for City Council can be sent at any time to AshevilleNCCouncil@AshevilleNC.gov.
The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.