The Board of Commissioners is moving forward with an expansion of the affordable parking program. During their meeting on Aug. 15, Commissioners approved opening 50 additional parking spots at a second location. The initiative already includes 150 spots at the Coxe Avenue parking deck for a discounted price of $40 per month. After research and public input, Commissioners approved offering an additional 50 spots at the College Street parking deck (located at 164 College St., across from the judicial complex) for $40 per month.
“We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback, and it’s helping a lot of people. Behind housing, transportation is next highest expense for many people… so providing people in the workforce with an affordable way to get close to where they work is really very valuable,” said Commission Chair Brownie Newman.
This initiative is focused on service industry and retail workers. To be eligible you need to work in Downtown Asheville and make 80% area median income (AMI), which is less than $22.88 per hour or $3,967 per month. The program will open on Monday, Aug. 21 and offer 75 spots at Coxe Avenue and 50 at College Street. If you’re interested in applying, visit this link starting Monday, Aug. 21. You can read more about the affordable parking program here.
2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
Every year Buncombe County honors community volunteers through the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award program. This year’s award goes to Asheville-Area Habitat for Humanity volunteers Tricia and Charlie Franck. The pair have been volunteering with the local nonprofit for more than 15 years. During that time, they helped develop and implement the Student Build program. Over six years, this initiative has grown to include six schools that have collectively helped raise $55,000 to sponsor a Habitat home with the students helping build it. Charlie has also helped with building homes, working in Habitat’s Restore, and more. Tricia has also been instrumental working with the Women Build program and serves on the Board of Directors.
Earning a certificate of recognition is the Land of Sky Association of Realtors (LOTSAR). Last year, the group worked alongside Buncombe County on a pilot project for property owners and residents to develop a better understanding of their property value, how it’s determined, the appeals process, and more. The group hosted multiple clinics across the County where they provided additional information about property tax values, how to navigate the County’s tax website, how the evolving market affects property values, sources for tax relief, and more.
Buncombe County congratulates the 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award honorees and appreciates all our volunteers and the valuable service they provide our community.
Mural project update
Progress is being made on the County’s Equity Mural Project, with two of the three murals finished. The mural project’s theme was to reflect the people and place of Buncombe County while incorporating concepts related to racial equity, reconciliation, and restoration. Last year, 21 proposals were submitted and reviewed with the committee selecting three artists based on their applications. The completed murals are:
- Leslie Reynalte-Llanco installed a mural entitled “Eres Un Orgullo Latino/You are Latin Pride” on a County-owned wall on Hilliard St. behind the Tax Office.
- Gabriel Eng-Goetz installed a mural entitled “Rebuild” on a County-owned building that houses the Register of Deeds, located at 205 College St.
The third mural will be done by Jared Wheatley and the Indigenous Walls Project. It will be painted on the parking deck at 164 College St. You can read more about the Creative Equity Mural Project here.
Strategic Partnership Grants Committee update
The Strategic Partnership Grants Committee works with the Board of Commissioners to provide recommendations for local nonprofits to receive funding. The committee provided an update on its work. Some highlights for fiscal year 2024 include:
- There was $3,254,912 for 71 projects requested by 67 organizations.
- The County funded $900,000 to 23 projects for 23 organizations.
- Those funding requests fall into the following four categories:
- Education: $358,800 for eight projects
- Environment: $35,211 for two projects
- Resident well-being: $375,389 for 10 projects
- Economy: $130,600 for three projects
Currently, staff is working with grant recipients on funding agreements and posts performance reports quarterly on its website. You can read more from the committee’s report here.
CDBG quarterly update
Commissioners received an update on Community Development Block Grants. The $400,000 in state funding from the NC Department of Commerce helps the County with neighborhood restoration via a home repair program.
Some highlights of the quarterly update include:
- The County will prioritize home repairs up to $30,000 per residence.
- The County will serve 12 or more low- to moderate-income homeowners outside the City of Asheville.
- Nonprofit subrecipients will manage the home repair program.
Applications for home repair will be reviewed through the end of August with the goal of awarding contracts in September. The grant funding will be available through June 2025. You can read the entire CDBG quarterly report here.
Long Shoals rezoning request
Commissioners approved a rezoning request for Long Shoals Business Center LLC to rezone a single parcel of land from Neighborhood Service District to Commercial Service District. The 4.97-acre property is located at 565 Long Shoals Road. Both the County’s Planning staff and Planning Board recommended approval. You can read more about the rezoning here.
Warren Wilson rezoning request
Commissioners also approved a rezoning request from Warren Wilson College to rezone a single parcel of land from Residential District to Public Service District. The 4.5-acre property is located at 111 Upper College Road in Swannanoa. Both the County’s Planning staff and Planning Board recommended approval. You can read more about the rezoning here.
GE tax refund request
Commissioners voted to deny a request from General Electric for a $279,990 tax refund for the 2019 and 2020 tax years. GE claims it erroneously paid the money for tangible personal property listings. Based on information from County staff, GE did not appeal the listing errors and the County had legal authority to assess the tax based on each taxpayer’s submitted listing. Further, staff states that GE’s listing errors do not create an illegal tax and any challenges to the listing or the amount of the tax should have been brought to the Board of Equalization and Review in 2019 and 2020. You can read more information here.