Zoning to be focus of Sept. 6 hearings before Asheville City Council

It’s been nearly a month since Asheville City Council last met — and that Aug. 9 session was a brief one that mostly revolved around Council’s unanimous decision to place a $74 million bond referendum on city voters’ general election ballots in November. Since then, a number of items of city business have made their way through the process to come before Council, meaning the meeting agenda for Sept. 6 looks substantial.

One item expected to be on the Sept. 6 agenda — a hearing on an ordinance to establish screening standards for electrical substations — has yet again been kicked down the road, this time to Jan. 10 next year. As residents of the South French Broad neighborhood organize to resist Duke Energy’s plans to locate a substation at 226 Hilliard Ave., it appears that establishing standards to give the city some measure of control over how substations are screened from view remains too hot to handle, at least for now.

Council will consider several zoning requests on Tuesday, along with a mixed bag of other city business.

Proclamations

Council will recognize selected city employees and also the long list of contributions made to the city (and especially the River Arts District) by Karen Cragnolin, the founder and former Executive Director of the nonprofit RiverLink organization. Cragnolin stepped down from that position on Sept. 1, but she will continue to work with RiverLink as a consultant.

Consent agenda

Council’s consent agenda includes contracts for services such as median maintenance, security guards for city buildings and graffiti removal.

Item K of the consent agenda concerns the purchase of 60 body-worn police cameras for the Asheville Police Department. The department applied for a state grant to offset one-third of the cost of the purchase of 60 cameras. The department learned on Aug. 23 that the application was successful. The city will receive $99,781.16 in grant funds, which it will match with $199,563 from the existing FY 2016-17 Police Department budget.  Overall, the city plans to purchase a total of 180 body-worn police cameras in the current fiscal year. In future years, an annual expense of $225,000 is projected to cover the cost of ongoing use and data storage. The total projected five-year cost of the body-worn camera program to the city is $1. 2 million.

Presentations and reports

Council will hear updates on the Lee Walker Heights redevelopment project (which failed to receive low-income tax credit financing in the current award year) and the Interstate 26 connector project.

Public hearings

Ingles Markets will return to Council with a request for variances from the city’s sign ordinance for signage at the company’s 863 Brevard Road store, which is currently being renovated. Ingles first made its request on July 26; Council asked the company to refine its proposals and come back for further consideration.

Council will consider conditional zoning for an affordable housing proposal for seven 10-unit buildings. All of the proposed one-bedroom units will be affordable for those earning at or below 60 percent of area median income. The development property at 42 Simpson St. sits in the flood plain of the Swannanoa River, so the structures will be built on stilts, with parking at the ground level below the first floor. The project has been reviewed by and received approval from a number of city boards, including the Technical Review Committee, the Planning & Zoning Commission, the Tree Commission and the Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission. This project requires Council review and approval because it is above the Level III threshold of 50 units of multi-family housing.

Called out as “Bouchon at Haw Creek” on project architectural plans, Council’s next agenda item concerns the reuse of a former church building at 184 New Haw Creek Road as a restaurant. The property owner, John Christoph, also plans to construct a 2,300-square-foot addition that will provide dining space on the first floor with office space above. Council will consider Christoph’s request to rezone the property from Residential Multi-Family Low Density District (RM-6) to Community Business I Conditional Zone (CB1-CZ).

Council approved plans to redevelop the former BB&T building as a mixed-use hotel, condominium, office and retail project on Jan. 12. That original approval included 39 residential condominium units and 140 hotel rooms, with a provision that would allow one floor of the building to be converted from 20 hotel rooms to seven residential units without additional Council approval.  The developer is now requesting additional flexibility, for a final mix of 39 to 54 residential units and a hotel with 114 to 140 rooms. The original approval included 60 parking spaces, and the developer has asked for a reduction of five spaces for a total of 55 spaces in the current request.

The final real estate-related item on Council’s agenda relates to the development of a parking lot to serve Asheville Eye Associates (which is accessed from Sweeten Creek Road). The proposed 70-space lot would occupy a portion of a 2.36-acre parcel at the northern end of the Shiloh community. The applicant has suggested that the part of the parcel not needed for the parking expansion would be donated to either the city or the Shiloh Community Association for future development. Because the proposed lot represents an incursion into a residential area of Shiloh, it does not comply with the Shiloh Community Plan 2025. Planning staff recommend denying approval for the requested zoning change from Residential Single Family High Density District (RS-8) to Commercial Industrial Conditional Zone (CI-CZ) for the parking lot area. If, however, Council grants approval, the unused portion of the property will remain RS-8.

New business

Council will consider a recommendation from the Housing and Community Development Committee to negotiate a contract with Tribute Companies for the redevelopment of city-owned property at 338 Hilliard Ave. for affordable housing. Tribute was one of only two respondents to the city’s request for proposals for the project. The company’s proposal includes a mix of unit types and affordability levels, but all of the units would be affordable for a period of 20 years. The company proposes to purchase the land from the city for $1, and to finance the project conventionally.

Additional details from the city staff report include:

Tribute proposed 30 parking spaces on site, with additional parking possible on site and with
spaces available at their other near-by multi-family developments. They propose to provide space for community gardens, and to seek third-party sustainability certification with an emphasis on controlling utility costs. Tribute also presented information regarding design, including interphase (sic) with Hilliard Avenue and the Clingman Forest Greenway. Tribute plans include space for a child care center. Tribute met with the WECAN organization, and indicated specific outreach activities, including to public housing residents

Tribute stated that they would require no additional City subsidy to perform according to their
proposed program.

Council will also consider approving Council’s 2016 strategic priorities for fiscal year 2016-17. The priorities include:

  • A Diverse Community
  • A Well-Planned and Livable Community
  • A Clean and Healthy Environment
  • Quality Affordable Housing
  • Transportation and Accessibility
  • Thriving Local Economy
  • Connected and Engaged Community
  • A Smart City

In a document associated with this agenda item, a work plan provides additional detail about the specific actions Council is currently taking or plans to take to advance these strategic priorities.

Finally, Council will consider candidates for vacancies on the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, the Recreation Board and the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority.

City Council will meet on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 5 p.m. in Council chambers on the second floor of Asheville City Hall.

The full meeting agenda can be found here.

 

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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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