Woodfin loosens manufactured housing rules

RULE CHANGES: Woodfin Town Council voted March 19 to loosen its rules surrounding manufactured housing in some parts of town, including the area west of the French Broad River that has petitioned to de-annex from the town. Photo by Eula Rivest Calder

(Edited March 25 to add a clarification from Woodfin Town Manager Shannon Tuch regarding the ramifications of an unpaid stormwater fee if the fee is included on a homeowner’s property tax bill. See the bottom of the story for more.)

Single-wide manufactured homes are now allowed in some parts of Woodfin, including in the section of town west of the river that some residents are seeking to be de-annexed from town limits.

Woodfin Town Council voted 6-0 at its March 19 meeting to approve the changes, creating a zoning overlay district to create more leniency around where manufactured homes are allowed.

Town Manager Shannon Tuch said the town was already considering changing manufactured home rules as a way to increase affordable housing when she heard from residents that wanted more expanded housing options at a community meeting about de-annexation Feb. 1.

The changes affect the area west of the river and east of Olivette Road, as well as a small area between Riverside Drive and Old Marshall Highway that Woodfin Planning Director Ricky Hurley said was predominantly grandfathered-in manufactured housing already.

The changes will allow property owners to install single- or double-wide manufactured homes without masonry skirting, but with vinyl or some other material known as “Class B” housing, Hurley said. Previously, only “Class A” manufactured housing was allowed, or double-wides with masonry skirting, he said.

The town also will allow Class A manufactured housing in almost all residential zones in Woodfin town limits, except those in the mountain village zone, which often are too steep for that type of housing, Hurley said. Any HOA or deed-restricted area could still set its own rules regarding housing types, he added.

Council member Eric Edgerton said some had asked why the zoning overlay applies mostly to the west side of the river, but not as much on the east side.

He explained that because the east side has water and sewer in place, developers are clamoring to build housing stock. The added housing supply will increase availability, he said.

“On the west side, I think there’s an argument to make that this change, if for no other reason, will increase opportunities for further development of housing in an area that is absent those utilities that [would] bring in institutional investors. [With this change], they can still generate new housing stock with this added flexibility with manufactured housing,” he said.

Many properties west of the river rely on private wells and septic tanks.

Chip Parton, who is leading the de-annexation effort, said after the meeting that he appreciates the town’s efforts to increase affordable housing by providing more options. However, he doesn’t think it will change residents’ minds about wanting out of the town.

“I can’t deny this will help some people over here and I greatly appreciate the effort put into this, but giving us back a sliver of what we had before the [original 2006 annex of the area] … is nowhere near enough to justify abandoning our goal of de-annexation. I don’t see Woodfin trying to secure grant money for infrastructure over here,” he said.

“New manufactured housing is a fantastic opportunity for people in this area, it’s also just as likely to burn up in a forest fire due to lack of fire hydrants, or have a failing septic tank in a few years. Let’s see them put some money where their morals are,” he added.

Woodfin seeks ability to lower stormwater fee

Councilmembers also unanimously approved a resolution requesting the N.C. General Assembly to consider legislation that would enable the town to lower its recently implemented stormwater fee.

The resolution requests that the town be allowed to include the stormwater fee on residents’ property tax bill, which would almost assuredly increase compliance. Ten other municipalities in the state collect stormwater fees in this way, according to a state law.

About 85% of property owners paid their 2023 stormwater fee, billed last summer for the first time to comply with a state-issued municipal stormwater permit. Property taxes, collected by Buncombe County, are paid at a rate of 99.8% by Woodfin residents. Therefore, higher compliance would enable the town to lower its fees by about 15% without losing revenue, Edgerton said.

“Woodfin doesn’t bill for trash collection services or any other service. Therefore, there’s no mechanism to collect that fee other than to send out a separate, standalone bill. When you do that, you naturally have lower rates of payment,” he said.

The stormwater fee, used to help keep runoff out of the river and limit erosion, is billed based on the amount of impervious surface area on a property. The rates range from about $41 to $187 annually for single-family residences.

The fee was the impetus for renewed de-annexation efforts west of the river, as many residents balked at paying an additional bill from the town for services that they say they don’t benefit from, launching a conversation that unearthed nearly two decades of frustrations with the town.

Parton is concerned that tying the stormwater fee to property taxes might affect the town’s previous promise in the February community meeting that no one would lose their home because of stormwater fees.

Tuch said any bill resulting from the resolution would simply allow the county to collect the stormwater fee with the property tax bill, it doesn’t combine the two. Therefore, people will not be kicked out of their homes for non-payment, she said on March 21.

Tuch clarified March 25 to say that if both property taxes and the stormwater fee remain unpaid for an extended period, the county could move towards a tax foreclosure, hypothetically. She doesn’t believe an unpaid stormwater fee on its own would warrant that process, however.



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2 thoughts on “Woodfin loosens manufactured housing rules

  1. T100

    Asheville City Council: We DESPERATELY need more affordable housing!!!
    Citizen: RV housing and single wide manufactured housing constitute the MOST affordable housing there is!!
    Asheville City Council: Eeeeewwwwe. We can’t have any nasty trailer parks in our beautiful city. We prefer homeless living in tents or under bridges .

    • Jt

      Do you want ratty trailer parks next door to you? Most of us don’t. It’s a highly inefficient use of increasingly expensive land, as cheap housing should be dense multi- units built out of real materials that last for 50 years. Trailer parks have little value. They’re exceedingly unattractive, far more so than apartment buildings. They’re also in demand as drug dens. No community is improved by trailer parks.

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