Sustainability issues, A-B Tech funding headline Board of Commissioners meeting

Nonprofit agencies will make their case for funding from Buncombe County's upcoming budget for Fiscal Year 2018. A total of 46 nonprofits are asking for an aggregate of almost $11 million.
Nonprofit agencies will make their case for funding from Buncombe County's upcoming budget for Fiscal Year 2018. A total of 46 nonprofits are asking for an aggregate of almost $11 million.

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will take on a variety of agenda items, with many relating to a theme of sustainability, during its meeting on Tuesday, March 7. Commissioners will also continue talks about A-B Tech capital projects and hold a public hearing on a rezoning request that has county staff and the planning board at odds.

Conflicting counsels

Applicant Ron Moore is asking for a .8-acre parcel of land at 233 Oak Terrace Road, near the intersection of Brevard and Sardis roads, to be rezoned from R2 to Commercial Service District.

According to the county’s zoning ordinance, the Commercial Service District is defined as:

“Primarily intended to provide suitable locations for clustered commercial development to encourage the concentration of commercial activity in those specified areas with access to major traffic arteries, to discourage strip commercial development, and to allow for suitable noncommercial land uses. Such locations should currently have water and sewer services or be expected to have such services available in the future. This CS Commercial Service District may be applied to suitable areas adjacent to existing commercial concentration to allow for their expansion.”

233 Oak Terrace
The planning board states the rezoning would be consistent with the county’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the rezoning would be in character with adjacent properties.

Meantime, county staff states the rezoning would be inconsistent with the CLUP and is advising commissioners deny the request.

Commissioners will hold a public hearing on the issue before making a decision between the differing recommendations.

Capital questions

Commissioners will continue a hearing from their last meeting about whether they want to fund an arts, science and engineering building on A-B Tech’s main campus. The project would cost $27 million; the county has already invested $2.2 million toward the effort, which would ultimately be paid for by a quarter-cent sales tax designated for the community college’s capital projects.

During the last meeting, concerns about campus diversity and approving funding for the community college by way of the board’s consent agenda led the commissioners to ask President Dennis King to reappear before the elected officials to field more questions.

Xpress spoke with King, Commissioner Ellen Frost and the school’s former diversity recruiter to get a better understanding of the varying perspectives on the issue. You can read that story here.

Sustainable options

Next up are a slew of sustainability presentations and pitches ranging from a proposed solar farm to potential creation of a sustainability office.

First up is a Sustainability Plan Update presentation by Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton.

Staff is recommending adoption of the updated document, and no funding is requested to support it. Creighton’s presentation is available here, with supporting documents here and here.

Next, county staff will present an energy usage update featuring information about buildings, vehicles, the landfill and other aspects of the county’s energy footprint. No action item is associated with this agenda item; the presentation is here.

County Manager Wanda Greene will make a presentation about creating a Sustainability Officer position to help county departments with environmental sustainability. The salary range would be around $75,000 per year, Greene told Xpress. “I hope to fill it with existing staff and would not need new salary this year. It would be a budget item next year,” she also told Xpress.

You can view a job description for the proposed position here.

Buncombe County Schools will request energy efficient lights to be offset with lottery funds to the tune of $700,000.

Finally, Commission Chair Brownie Newman will advocate turning the old landfill in Woodfin into a solar farm. The move would require a $27,000 upfront investment, and an additional $15,000 down the road, for a total cost of $42,000 in county funding. Newman’s presentation claims the solar farm would attract more than $7 million in investments and reduce the county’s carbon footprint by 18 percent, along with other benefits.
Solar Farm

Commissioners meet on Tuesday, March 7 at 4:30 p.m. at 200 College St. You can view the entire agenda here.

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About Dan Hesse
I grew up outside of Atlanta and moved to WNC in 2001 to attend Montreat College. After college, I worked at NewsRadio 570 WWNC as an anchor/reporter and covered Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners starting in 2004. During that time I also completed WCU's Master of Public Administration program. You can reach me at dhesse@mountainx.com.

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