Public hearing scheduled in Asheville on DOT billboard rules

The N.C. Department of Transportation has scheduled a public hearing in Asheville for Monday, August 13, to take comments on proposed permanent rules for vegetation removal at outdoor advertising locations within highway rights of way. The rules are the result of legislation passed in the 2011 session of the N.C. General Assembly, allowing a significant increase in the cutting zones around billboards. (photo by Edward Ingle)

Moffitt: Council’s proposed referendum on water system “serves no purpose”

On July 31, Asheville City Council members asked staff to draft a referendum that lets residents vote on a possible transfer of the city water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County. But according to Buncombe County Rep. Tim Moffitt, who chaired a state legislative study commission on the matter, he does not need a referendum to know the where folks in the City of Asheville stand on this issue. (photo by Max Cooper)

City will go forward with referendum on water system transfer

At a worksession this afternoon, July 30, Asheville City Council directed staff to craft a referendum for November’s ballot asking voters to weigh in on a possible transfer of the Asheville water system to the Metropolitan Sewerage District. The city is also communicating with MSD, studying the financial impacts of a merger and trying to arrange a meeting with local legislators. (photo by Max Cooper)

Reluctant Partners: Water system/MSD documents

The city of Asheville, the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County, and Henderson County officials have been negotiating and discussing the possibility of merging Asheville’s water system with MSD. Here are a few documents related to the topic. For more information, see “Reluctant Partners: Asheville, MSD Take Tentative Steps Toward Merger” in the Aug. 1, 2012 issue of Xpress.

MSD awards contract to study impact of potential merger with Asheville water system

The potential merger of the Asheville water system with the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County drew a range of visitors to MSD’s River Road office site Wednesday afternoon for its July board meeting. Some two dozen audience seats were filled with consultants, staff, members of the public, and one county legislator as discussion of the water system took center stage.

The little bill that could, couldn’t, might or might not

On May 17, 2012, a bill modestly titled “MSD Amendments” was introduced in the final regular session of the N.C. General Assembly. Sponsored by Western North Carolina Reps. Tim Moffitt (Buncombe County) and Chuck McGrady (Henderson County), both Republicans, the bill passed the House on June 18 and received Senate approval on June 27, moving to the governor’s desk on June 28. The true meaning of that bill is a matter of some history, some speculation, some objection and a fair amount of outright praise.

Senate passes fracking bill over Nesbitt’s objection; House expected to ratify today

A contentious bill to allow hydrolic fracturing – or “fracking” – for oil and gas exploration in the state passed the N.C. Senate on Wednesday by a 29-19 majority, and is expected to be voted on today in the House. The Senate vote followed a standing-room-only Commerce Committee hearing on Tuesday, which saw Senate Democratic Leader Martin Nesbitt, Jr., of Buncombe County—speak out against the bill.

Statehouse override procedure faces constituti­onal scrutiny

The N.C. General Assembly convenes tonight for the third week of its 2012 short session. Last week saw some remarkably disparate actions from both inside and outside the Statehouse, having to do with current and past legislation. And one of items on this week’s agenda — a veto override attempt to repeal the Racial Justice Act (SB 9) — is now involved in what may prove to be a landmark lawsuit regarding gubernatorial vetoes.

Mountain Resources Commission goes on chopping block

Draft legislation in the N.C. General Assembly would eliminate some 102 state boards and commissions, including the WNC-oriented Mountain Resources Commission and its accompanying Mountain Area Resources Technical Advisory Council. Both were created in the 2009 to address balancing growth and development in the mountains with the preservation of natural resources and farmland.

Final hearing set on Asheville water; annexation law found unconstitu­tional

The final study-committee hearing on the future of the Asheville water system is set for April 19. And the (assumed) final special session of the General Assembly convenes May 19. That session may address a new court ruling finding part of the Legislature’s newly adopted annexation provisions unconstitutional—which could affect the unresolved Asheville annexation of Biltmore Lake. And in other news, the state’s readiness for shale gas removal (fracking) has been reviewed by NC-DENR; and two top Republicans have taken opposite sides on Amendment One.