Buncombe County’s innovative programs continue to garner national recognition. The National Association of Counties (NACo) has recognized Buncombe County with three Achievement awards. The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs across the country that strengthen services for residents.
The Community-Oriented Development (COD) program received Best in Category for Planning. According to NACo judges, one program in each of the 18 categories receives the Best in Category distinction and the COD program was chosen for this outstanding distinction due to its exceptional results and unique innovations.
The COD program was designed, drafted, and administered by Buncombe County Planning & Development staff, and adopted by the Board of Commissioners in 2015. It was originally developed to address a critical shortage of quality affordable housing and seeks to incentivize density and design flexibility (based on a points based system menu), in exchange for affordable or workforce housing units, sustainability features, and community amenities.
“As a gateway community rich in natural beauty and splendor and one in which has been discovered by the nation and increasingly the world, developable land in Buncombe County is a scarce resource. Great care through innovative products like the COD program, which make effective use of our scarcest resource and bring affordable and equitable housing opportunities to our citizens are paramount,” comments Planning Director Nathan Pennington. “We are humbled by this recognition, and we will continue to work with the community and our elected officials on future endeavors.”
The program is allowed by-right in the Zoning Ordinance and seeks to provide opportunities for the creation of new affordable housing near major transportation corridors, where public water and sewer infrastructure is available. The program includes requirements for income eligibility and sets rental rates/housing price affordability for a minimum period of 15 years.
Since the creation of the program, 130 new affordable and workforce housing units have been approved through the program and more projects are currently in the planning stages.
This program has been featured in the NACo Counties Futures Lab September 2018 publication titled Planning Ahead, was a finalist for the Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability Innovation, and Buncombe County staff presented information about the COD program at a housing symposium held at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard in November 2019.
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NACo President Mary Ann Borgeson said, “We are seeing firsthand now more than ever that counties work tirelessly to support our residents. This year’s Achievement Award-winning programs showcase how counties build healthy, safe and vibrant communities across America.”
Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more. Learn more here.