Urban centers zoning comes to Council Sept. 28

Asheville city seal

Asheville City Council has a date with density.

During their meeting of Tuesday, Sept. 28, Council members will consider an amendment to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance that would update the definition of the Urban Place Zoning district. As explained in a staff report available before the meeting, the proposed updates would encourage more intense mixed-use development and walkability in areas currently dominated by big-box stores, such as Walmart and Ingles, and their associated parking lots. 

The proposed changes would also incentivize the creation of housing units as part of larger commercial developments. Housing would be required for commercial projects more than 20,000 square feet on sites over five acres; developers could build taller structures by right if they include affordable housing. 

Asheville’s Planning and Zoning Commission narrowly voted to approve the proposed zoning amendment in a 4-3 vote Sept. 1. The commission also reduced the minimum size of parcels to be affected by the housing incentive clause to five acres from a previously proposed 10.

Council members will vote on the zoning text amendment after a public hearing on the issue. If the change is approved, they will hold a subsequent public hearing to consider rezoning several properties totalling 122 acres to the new district, including the current site of the Innsbruck Mall on Tunnel Road and the shopping center on Bleachery Boulevard in East Asheville.

In other news

Council members will also hear an update from City Manager Debra Campbell on the city’s Climate Justice Initiative. No additional information was linked to the agenda prior to the meeting. 

Council issued a climate emergency declaration in January 2020, which called for a new Climate Justice Plan to be compiled by December 2020. As previously reported by Xpress, the city issued no timeline for the plan’s completion after missing that deadline and has failed to fulfill other items listed in the emergency declaration.

Consent agenda and public comment

The consent agenda for the meeting contains five items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:

  • A resolution authorizing Campbell to enter into a contract of up to $438,480 with SEPI Engineering and Construction, Inc., to cover construction and engineering costs for the 1.02 mile French Broad River Greenway West extension. A federal grant will cover 80% of the project cost, with the city chipping in the remainder.

  • A resolution authorizing Campbell to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding and Right of Entry agreement with Duke Energy to consider a property exchange between the city and the utility company. Duke currently owns property behind the Civic Center, where it maintains a substation, but is in talks with Asheville leaders about building a new substation on city-owned property on Rankin Avenue. Ownership of the two properties would be swapped; the city property currently contains a parking lot.

The meeting will be livestreamed through Asheville’s public engagement hub and on the city’s YouTube channel. Members of the public can also listen live by calling 855-925-280, meeting code 4854.

Members of the public who wish to speak during the meeting must sign up in advance online or call 828-259-5900 no later than 9 a.m. Sept. 28. City staff will use the list of registered speakers to manage the speaker queue during the meeting. Speakers will need to listen to the meeting via phone by calling 855-925-2801, meeting code 4854.

Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 4854; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilSept282021@publicinput.com. Emails will be accepted for 24 hours after each public hearing.

The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.


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