Another multifamily residential development for Long Shoals Road came before Asheville City Council. Unable to promise members of council their eleventh-hour requests for solar panels, bike infrastructure, subsidized units, density, tree canopy, and more, the developer agreed to continuing the hearing until December 12.
The City of Asheville cannot apply for Tourist Development Authority funds for the construction of affordable housing this year because it has no shovel-ready projects. Buncombe County, however, has requested $6 million from tourist tax revenues to help build the $210 million, 645-unit development planned for Ferry Road. Councilwoman Sage Turner was vehement. She wanted affordable housing to be a part of every TDA grant request moving forward.
In a discussion about reducing the jail population, the Buncombe County Commissioners took shots at the Asheville Police Department for arresting low-level offenders among the homeless crowds.
A state of emergency was declared for Buncombe County and the rest of Western North Carolina as conditions were ripe for wildfires as bad as the one that overtook Party Rock in 2016.
In its fourteenth year in Asheville, Code Purple went into effect just one week before temperatures fell into the 20s. Through participating shelters, Code Purple offers no-questions-asked shelter to homeless persons when outdoor temperatures put them at risk of freezing.
An eight-mile stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway has been closed indefinitely because a bear cub has been hanging out with humans. Park rangers say this is dangerous, and they want the bear to have enough time to "lose interest" in the friendly overlook.
The City of Asheville's facilities assessment is now complete, and staff is putting finishing touches on a presentation that will come before city council in November. In the meantime, the city's Building Construction Project Manager Walter Ear shared that with the city's current rate of investment in building maintenance, $1 million per year, the average building condition in the city will be rated F+ in 17 years. It would take an annual investment of $3.5 million to maintain the C-grade status quo, and no amount of money could get the city to score an A.
As the agreed upon lead entity for a merger study for the Asheville and Buncombe County school districts, Buncombe County elected to outsource project leadership to an impartial third party. In doing so, the commissioners expressed disbelief that the schools would come together and toyed around with potential workarounds.
On a 4-3 vote, Asheville City Council approved a road diet for the two main east-west streets passing through the downtown business district. In the process, staff was exposed for cherry-picking data and implying consent when consulted parties had voiced concerns. Many citizens complained about crime in the context of delaying emergency vehicle response times. A majority on council, however, was of the belief that progressive leadership runs experiments, collects data, and responds.
An update on crime rates in downtown Asheville indicated a recent police initiative had been effective. Members on council agreed there was much more work to do, whether through more law enforcement or social services.