Ed Manning at Asheville City Council retreat

Budget outlook challenges Council at annual retreat

“This may hurt some feelings, but you can no longer operate the city of Asheville like it’s the Oprah Winfrey talk show, where you get a car and you get a car,” said Council member Keith Young, referencing the daytime TV host’s famous giveaways. “As much as we love all these programs and trying to help the public good… this is the time to close the bank.”

Electric bus

Electric city buses make public debut

Even accounting for the fossil fuels needed to generate the electricity they will use, said Council member Julie Mayfield, each vehicle will produce 54 fewer tons of annual carbon emissions than one of Asheville’s current buses. Once all five buses hit the streets, the total emissions savings of 270 tons will make up a third of the city’s annual carbon reduction target.

Comprehensive Plan map of urban centers

Asheville City Council expands affordable housing incentives

The Land Use Incentive Grant point maximum will increase from 140 to 200, with every 10 points worth a rebate of one year of city property taxes above a property’s pre-development total. But developers will also face stricter conditions when applying for LUIG money: The minimum period for which a project must guarantee affordable housing will increase from 15 to 20 years.

Transit Master Plan 2020 Map

Transit Master Plan proposes big changes for Asheville’­s bus service

The ambitious proposal would increase bus service hours by 44 percent starting in fiscal year 2020, construct a new $50 million operating facility by 2024 and double the current fleet by 2029. Elias Mathes, transit planning manager for the city, says these bold changes are needed to make Asheville Redefines Transit a viable alternative to automobile commuting for the city’s future.

Asheville City Council approves Transit Master Plan (Citizen-reported via Twitter)

Asheville City Council votes 6-1 to accept Transit Master Plan, tweets Xpress reporter Brian Postelle. Council will hear implementation options at its January retreat. “OK, TMP fans,” tweets an ebullient @ashevillebus, “It’s time to start lobbying council to find the money to fund the plan.” Council also voted to postpone for one week the cancellation of the Asheville-Weaverville route.