Woodfin – Woodfin Commissioners opened their monthly meeting Tuesday evening (Aug. 17), only to go into an executive session, much to the chagrin of about 20 residents who came to speak their minds.
Asked by a resident how long they’d be, the response was they didn’t know. About an hour and a half later, the commissioners emerged out of the executive session, called the regular meeting back into order and then asked the Town Lawyer Joe Ferikes to make a statement.
“If mandated procedures are not strictly followed, any actions purported to amend or adopt zoning ordinance is void,” said Ferikes as he began his statement to the board and those gathered at the meeting. “Meaning that the ordinances adopted or amended never existed and so had no effect from the moment of that action. It is my opinion that the adoption of new zoning ordinances on May 18, 2021 commissioners’ meeting did not strictly follow required procedures and those purported zoning ordinances are void ab initio [from the beginning] issue and that the previous ordinances remain in effect.”
Commissioner Don Hensley made a motion to accept Ferikes’ finding. It was seconded by Commissioner Jim Angel and passed unanimously. Asked after the meeting about the effect Ferikes’ legal opinion would have on the Bluffs project, Town Administrator Eric Hardy said, “It was not necessarily done just for the Bluffs project…it [the passage of the new zoning ordinance] wasn’t done correctly.”
The board then passed the consent agenda that contained the approval of minutes from the July meeting, acceptance of the sale of two surplus public works vehicles and the approval of a new purchasing card program to replace the use of town credit cards.
Following the statement from Ferikes came public comment. About seven members of the public spoke, all related to zoning or the Bluffs project. Colin Willis was the first to speak, asking the board about the two boards that were created when the new zoning ordinance was adopted in May, “I guess those things are happening now?”
The board was silent. “You can’t answer,” he asked, to which Ferikes nodded his head. He then went over the state’s 160D ordinance, which the town tried to comply with when they passed the new zoning ordinance. Others stated the town should not rush into the new ordinances but take the time to get it right. Commenting went on for about 20 minutes.
The board skipped two presenters in new business and reports. One was the report from the Woodfin ABC Board Chairman who was unable to attend the meeting because of the bad weather. The other was from Planning and Zoning Director Adriane Isenhower who had to leave the meeting early because the bridge to her home washed out.
Walt Brewer, chairman of the Greenway and Blueway Advisory Committee, gave a list of recommendations that included suggestions for the coming parks, greenway and the existing parks (see article on page 4 for more details).
The board then heard from Finance Director Sheri Powers about the budget for spending $2.1 million in American Rescue Plan funds. She gave a brief overview of the spending and said the town had already received the first installment of over one million dollars, with the rest coming next year and can be spent through the end of 2023 (see a more detailed article about this on page 1). The commissioners passed the budget.
Next, the board made appointments to the planning and zoning board of adjustments stemming from a procedural problem addressed earlier in the meeting. The board members are Patrizia Hoffman, Chairperson; Theresa Stoker, member; Jay Grimmett, member; Barbara Lamb, member; Jeff Angel, member; Dylan Dechant, member; Jim McAllister, member; with Susannah Carver and Glenda Overbeck as alternates.
Hardy gave a general project update on the progress on the greenway update, saying he hoped to have a project manager hired and in place by the first of September. Hardy also said that Riverlink staff is in transition
but plans on meeting with the new executive director on Aug. 24 to work on fundraising and communications.
Hardy said several decisions are pending on the Silver-Line park, including a cofferdam solution for riverbank work, $60,000 – $70,000 change order for pirate ship design changes, park signage and public building design.
He said the board had already heard from the advisory committee recommendations regarding Riverside Park and the Whitewater Wave. He is meeting with an on-site design team to visit a rock quarry to see if the stone would work for the park expansion and the whitewater feature.
As for the greenway, Hardy said that Buncombe County may have found two new funding sources and they would like to shorten the project’s timeline. He said the discussions continue with property owners.