Asheville City Council members whisked through their Aug. 10 formal session in record time: two-and-a-half hours (almost half the average length of their meetings). Mayor Leni Sitnick launched the evening with a nod to the tragedy of our times: the latest shooting incident, this one in Los Angeles. Giving the invocation, Sitnick urged that we keep those affected by such tragedies in our hearts, "and keep alive, in our hearts and minds, that celestial spark called conscience."
West Asheville church gets rezoned
Talk about a bad case of split zoning: "The congregation and pastor are actually in the commercial section; the choir sits in the residential section," former Asheville City Council member Norma Price said about her church, West Asheville Presbyterian.
Although the church has owned its Haywood Road property for nearly 100 years, the front half of the lot is zoned for commercial use, the back half for residential use. The church sits smack in the middle. Church members asked Council members to remedy the situation by rezoning the entire lot as Community Business II.
Council member Barbara Field responded, "When we were doing the [Unified Development Ordinance], we were trying to get rid of such anomalies."
"We missed this one," replied City Planner Carl Ownbey.
Price remarked that she wasn't sure how the split zoning of the lot had come about. She also noted that church members had also requested that an adjacent lot on Virginia Avenue -- owned by the church and used for parking -- be rezoned. But, after neighborhood residents opposed the proposal, they withdrew the request and are working with city staff on ways to meet their parking needs without changing the lot's residential zoning, Price reported.
Council members agreed to remove the split zoning: On a motion by Tommy Sellers, seconded by Earl Cobb, they voted 7-0 to zone the church lot CB-II.
"You are now all together as a church family," Sitnick observed.
Annexing by fours
Why annex one little ol' property by its lonesome, when you can pull four of them into the mix, for a total of more than 37 acres? After all, all the property owners involved asked to become part of the city. So, Asheville City Council members approved the voluntary annexation of four south-Buncombe properties during their Aug.10 formal session.
One of the properties is a 100-foot-wide right of way known as Schenck Parkway. It is, essentially, a new road linking another of the newly annexed properties -- Biltmore Commons, a 20-acre addition to the residential development known as Biltmore Park -- with an as-yet-unbuilt business facility known only by its address, 100 Technology Drive (a 5-acre lot). The fourth newly annexed property is the old Volvo Construction building and lot, which are adjacent to Schenck Parkway.
This package annexation neatly connects the four properties into the shape of a giant L with two circles hanging off the top (100 Technology Drive and the Volvo lot). Council member Barbara Field took one look at the map and pondered, "Can you imagine what the people who draw maps are going to have to do to include all this mess into the city of Asheville?"
Whatever it is, they'll have to deal with it: Council members voted unanimously (on Field's motion, seconded by Sellers) to annex the four properties. The annexation will take effect on Feb. 8, 2000.
InterMedia General Manager Joe Haight was a high-profile guy during the city's tough cable-franchise negotiations with the mega-corporation last year. And some local media activists -- unhappy with the eventual compromise agreement, and with Intermedia's plans for funding the new public-access channels for public, educational and government use (through a surcharge on cable customers' bills) -- may have looked askance at Haight for his role in the proceedings.
Nevertheless, Haight came to the Aug. 10 formal session, and thanked City Council members and city staff for all their work on the franchise deal. He also formally announced that Charter Communications will take over InterMedia's Asheville operations on Oct. 1 -- and he won't be piloting the ship.
But Haight said he won't be leaving town, and will continue to be actively involved in numerous nonprofit organizations, such as United Way. He added, "In the next three months, I will be making every effort to get the PEG channels up and running."