When lawyers, planners and elected officials get into the weeds of jargon and legal minutiae, it can seem like they’re no longer speaking English. Here’s a list of some of the most commonly encountered — and commonly confused — terms that come up in development discussions.
Development projects leave obvious marks on the world around them. But every building that goes up in Western North Carolina also leaves a paper trail in local government archives that, as public property, residents have the legal right to inspect.
Deciding what gets built on an empty lot down the street should, according to state law, begin with decisions about what gets built across an entire city or county. Counties and municipalities that want to have zoning in their jurisdiction first need to write a comprehensive plan that looks at big questions like which areas are best for growth.
People who go to a meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment might not realize the bland room where the board gathers is a first cousin to a court of law. Learn more about how quasi-judicial bodies work to govern development in North Carolina.
While Asheville city and Buncombe County leaders govern the bulk of local development, other municipalities set zoning rules and approve projects within their own borders. Here’s the key information about when and where those decisions are made, as well as how you can weigh in.
Buncombe County is a relative newcomer to land use regulation, and many outlying areas still remain under open use zoning. For parts of the county where development is more regulated, these three boards have the greatest say.
Three governmental bodies are critical to the fate of large-scale development in the city: Asheville City Council, the Design Review Committee and the Planning and Zoning Commission. Find out more about what each group does and how to weigh in on its decisions.
Learn more about the different types of development projects in the city of Asheville and how local government reviews each of them.
Both Asheville and Buncombe County offer a number of tools to help residents avoid getting caught off guard by development. The following resources give early notification of development proposals and provide more information about each project’s movement through the overall approval process.
The following guidelines are best practices for getting public officials to tune you in if you are involved in a development issue. Each piece of advice is based on interviews with people who used to turn thumbs up — or thumbs down — on development projects and others with experience in the field.
Court rulings and state laws sometimes mean local governments can’t adopt zoning rules their constituents might like — and in some cases, it’s uncertain just how much authority municipalities have, say Asheville City Attorney Brad Branham and other lawyers working in the field.
Mountain Xpress, with support from the American Press Institute, is excited to offer a fully linkable online version of the Development Guide — your companion to local government land-use planning.
As part of the Local News Ideas-to-Action Series, the Virginia-based national media nonprofit American Press Institute awarded Xpress a $9,300 grant to create a guide to local government decision-making for land development. The guide will cover the stages of review that projects face on their way from concept to final approval, what aspects are considered at each step and what avenues exist for public input.