Woodfin – On Tuesday evening (June 15), Woodfin Town Commissioners held their regular monthly meeting. The meeting concerned the residents of Richmond Hills in Asheville—the town chose to change part of its zoning ordinance, a change the Asheville residents believe will help further the Bluffs development project. Many Richmond Hill residents are opposed.
The first order of old business was repealing the Chapter 2 zoning and subdivision ordinance. Council said this was no longer relevant as the board was recently split into a planning board and a board of adjustment.
“The language that was in Chapter 2 was redundant and a concise version of what was already in the previous zoning ordinance,” said Planning Director Adrienne Isenhower. This meeting was to clarify this information and have the minutes reflect this change.
An unidentified woman asked the board if the revised ordinances are clear enough in the new planning and zoning boards. Planning Director Isenhower explained that Chapter 2 was just redundant and that new codes will be used at the following meetings.
The next item was that the town received a $200,000 grant from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Division of Water Resources (NCDEQWR) for Riverside Park improvements. The plan for this park was already set, but now NCDEQWR funds can be allocated to Phase I of the project.
During public comment, Larry Hopkins, a resident, spoke first. He explained that he lives in the Terraces on Reynolds Mountain. Hopkins expressed that after bringing to the council that there were no speed limit signs, the town mounted fifteen mph signs in his neighborhood. At another meeting, a different group argued that 15 mph was too slow and that 25 mph signs should replace them.
Hopkins then explained that people were not adhering to these 25 mph signs and asked for some speed bumps. Twenty-four out of 27 residents signed a petition agreeing with Hopkins, which he brought to the meeting.
The first new business item was the ABC Board which reported that $2.3 million was budgeted in revenues. The 2019-2020 budget was $2.4 million. ABC Chairman Tom Spradling asked to be appointed to the ABC Board and ABC Boardmember JaneAnne Tager to be appointed as the ABC Board Chair. Both were appointed to their respective positions.
Next, the council presented the FY 2021-2022 budget. This budget was similar to the previous year but increased over a million dollars in spending. The additional revenue to cover the extra expenditure, in part, will come from keeping the property tax the same. Since this was a property re-evaluation year, this means taxpayers will spend more money on property taxes. The budget also shows an increase of $236,014. This comes from an increase in local option sales tax, which is higher than in previous years. Funds were also allocated differently for a few other projects.
A lengthy discussion ensued over the budget with two board members, Vice-mayor Debbie Geizentanner and Commissioner Don Hensley, taking opposite positions. Geizentanner supported a revenue-neutral tax rate, primarily because of the COVID economic difficulties. Hensley stated he usually would also be for the revenue-neutral, but that the budget was too tight and tax rates had been so low in the past that this increase was needed.
Also in the budget discussion was a resolution that accepts funds from the American Recovery Plan. Then, followed an ordinance to establish a special revenue fund. Finally, a budget amendment once the funds are received. Until then, the board will discuss what to spend this money on since the funds are limited to COVID-related costs. The resolution passed.
The FY2022 budget was discussed in greater detail, specifying why certain numbers had risen or lowered. There was much discussion over tax rates for property owners. This budget resolution was passed unanimously, with Geizentanner switching to vote with the majority.
Next was a resolution opposing Senate Bill 349 and House Bill 401. These bills most importantly move to eliminate single-family zoning in a push for multiple-family zoning. This resolution to oppose the bills was passed.
The meeting ended with departmental and administrative reports. Reports included police, planning and zoning, finance, administration, public works, Greenway and Blueway.
View this meeting on the Town of Woodfin’s Facebook page.
Editor’s note: Clint Parker contributed to this report.