A series of changes at the Planning & Development Department over the last two years seeks to improve community engagement and make the development review process more accessible. Planning staff have worked to streamline regulations and procedures into easy to read summaries, improved how staff provides information about upcoming public meetings, and made it easier to find information on a wide range of planning topics. So what’s new?
- New public meeting signs:
If you have ever seen a Zoning or Public Notice sign along the side of the road, you know what we are talking about. It may have a bright red Z on the front, or include small text that is hard to read while driving by in a car. Those old signs have been completely redesigned to make them easier to understand, with larger text, brighter colors, a better layout, and more ways to get additional information.
- Better notices in your mailbox:
Any time an application is received for a Conditional Use Permit, Rezoning, or Variance, staff mails a letter to all property owners within 1,000 feet of the applicant’s property to let them know about the public meeting. These mailings have been completely redesigned to make them more straightforward. In addition, staff significantly reduced the amount of paper waste created for each mailing by sending the information on postcards instead of letters.
- New and improved website:
The Planning & Development Department website recently underwent a complete redesign including a brand new layout, access to more documents and information, updated FAQ sections, and a Development Mapper which allows you to search for large scale projects in the County. Users can download new checklists which guide them through different development applications and view graphic-rich flowcharts to better understand ordinances (e.g., How Subdivisions are Approved and What’s a Vacation Rental?).
- Working together for one Buncombe:
Planning & Development is in the beginning stages of working with the Community Engagement team to expand conversations with County residents about their needs and visions for the future. Through this collaboration, both teams hope to build new bridges between residents and local government to continue working toward our common goals now and in the future through a countywide comprehensive planning process.
- Information displayed where you need it:
Have you ever walked into a public meeting and not known how the process works? New informational posters are now displayed at the Board of Adjustment meetings. The posters include information about how land use decisions and regulations are made, how the meetings work, and when public comment can be considered in the decision making process. Posters are also being displayed in the Planning Department lobby which highlight different ordinances and programs that people may not be aware of, such as the Affordable Housing Program.
Planning & Development is excited about these changes and continues to search for new ways to engage the public. For more information on Buncombe County ordinances, development regulations, and more, visit the new Planning & Development Department website here.