Letter writer: Duplex zoning change would violate covenant between Buncombe county residents, commissioners

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The Buncombe County Planning Board in a 5-3 vote on Monday, Dec. 7, approved a zoning change that will permit duplexes in all residential zoning districts. Currently, duplexes are allowed in eight zoning districts but not in R-LD (low-density residential), R-1 (single-family residential) and BDM (Beaverdam low-density residential district). This change opens these three residential districts to the construction of duplexes.

At the Dec. 7 meeting, a number of residents and community leaders spoke in opposition to the proposed zoning change. Several Planning Board members suggested that the vote be deferred to give the board more time to consider the issue, but the majority voted to proceed and approved the change on a 5-3 vote.

The proposed change will now be forwarded to the Buncombe County commissioners for a public hearing and final vote as early as their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 5, at 4:30 in the Board of Commissioners Chambers, 200 College St., Suite 326. Public comments will be heard.

I oppose this change for the following reasons: Duplexes are predominantly investment properties and not owner-occupied. They are essentially two living units with a common wall and are typically low-end construction built on a slab without amenities such as a carport or garage. They are often clustered on adjacent lots. They may seriously degrade the value of adjacent or nearby single-family homes.

Buncombe County zoning was approved by voters and adopted by the Buncombe commissioners on Dec. 1, 2009. Citizens were told by commissioners that adopting zoning “would protect our property values.” Stated in the zoning ordinance (78-578) is the following: “The purpose of this article is to insure orderly, attractive and economically sound development and to protect existing value within Buncombe County.”

Permitting duplexes in the proposed three single-family residential zoning districts is unwarranted and unnecessary, as they are currently permitted in eight other districts.  Approving this change will violate the covenant between Buncombe residents and our county government.

I urge residents to contact our Buncombe commissioners and voice your opinion on this proposal. Please plan to attend the public hearing.

— Al Gumpert
Asheville

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