Woodfin – The Woodfin Town Commissioners met for their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday (July 19th), where they heard a couple of presentations and discussed issues from their listening session.
The meeting started with the consent agenda, where commissioners approved the minutes from last month’s meeting, made changes to the fee schedule, and amended the budget. Next was the public comment segment of the meeting, at which no one spoke.
Under new business, the board heard a presentation from Anna Zuevskaya of Asheville-Buncombe Community Land Trust (ABCLT), a local non-profit working to improve housing security and increase the supply of affordable housing in Buncombe County. ABCLT provides several programs designed to address the increasing cost of living in the area.
According to ABCLT’s website, the group’s mission is “to establish permanently affordable residential, commercial, and community spaces that empower Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and low-to moderate-income residents to build social, economic, and cultural capital.” “Diverse and equitable communities where everyone, including black, Indigenous, and people of color, has opportunities to thrive, build wealth, and use their collective voice to create a more prosperous, just future,” the group’s vision states.
Zuevskaya played a video about how the program works from a New York group doing similar work. She said that her group’s model for affordable housing was not new but that there were more than 300 similar types of groups across the nation.
“What we do is we don’t sell the land underneath the home itself. We sell the structure or the improvement to the land but retain ownership of the land itself, “explains Zuevskaya. She went on to tell the board that the group leases the property for 99 years and renews the lease for another 99 years perpetually. The monthly lease cost is $100 to the homeowner, with $50 going to use of the property and $50 going to a repair reserve fee. The homeowner can use the excess repair service to maintain the home. The owner does not pay tax on the property but only on the home. ABCLT also caps the sale price of the house.
After her presentation and telling the board that the group had gotten a million dollars from the City of Asheville and some minor support from the Buncombe County government, she asked for any questions. The board had none.
Next, the board heard from Marc Hunt, who was representing the “Better with Bonds/Buncombe Votes Yes” group, which is advocating for two bond referendums in the November election. The first is $30 million for “open space conservation and greenways and $40 million to increase the number of housing units for people of low to moderate income in Buncombe County.” According to Hunt, the bonds would obligate every household in Buncombe County for an additional $37 a month for the next 20 years.
Commissioner Ronnie Lunsford asked if these bonds would force a tax increase. Hunt said that the county believes that debts the county would retire over the life of the bonds would allow the county to absorb the burden without increasing taxes. Woodfin voters got a five-cent increase per $100 of evaluation on their property taxes when they borrowed $4.1 million of bonds. Hunt asked the board to draft a resolution supporting the bond referendums. (See related commentary page ??)
Town Manager Shannon Tuch then led a discussion on what was learned during the town’s June 28th listening session, where about 55 residents were in attendance. Tuch said one resident summed up the town as a group of nodes rather than a town center or downtown area. The town plans to move forward with the need for a new town hall study. Tuch also said that among the items identified at the meeting were the need for wayfinding and “Welcome to Woodfin” signs; a town identity/brand; the need for a business association; and an interactive map of the town.
There was also a need for clear and hard rules for short-term rentals in the town by developing clear and easy-to-understand resources, updating homestay and short-term rental regulations and limiting zoning districts where short-term rentals may be permitted.
The board also approved standardizing processes for taking meeting minutes and including time stamps for each action on the agenda to allow for the ease of locating the discussion on the video minutes taken at the meetings. The board approved a facility rental policy before going into an executive session and then adjourning.