Where Is the Eden That We Dreamed of?

The Buncombe County Commissioners are still learning the ropes about zoning. They’ve established that spot zoning is not permissible, but Commissioner David Gantt continues to ask, for the sake of the viewing audience, for distinctions between the different zonings.

 Buncombe County Zoning Administrator Jim Coman explained the not-so-self-evident basics. Now that the county is zoned, property uses can be permitted, prohibited, or approved by the Board of Adjustment. Appeals to the Board of Adjustment can be approved, denied, or approved with reasonable conditions.

The county is having to revise its zoning ordinances, as several, predictably, are proving impractical. County staff asked that appeals to the Board of Adjustment be submitted thirty days, rather than two weeks in advance. According to Coman, zoning staff, which has already been reinforced, is experiencing an “enormous crunch.” Even Chairman Nathan Ramsey, a Republican dead-set against zoning, took this as a signal to hire more government workers.

 Jim Kelton can no longer add park model RV’s to his resort. Ramsey thought this was absurd. Kelton bought the property with the intention of renting cabins, and now, for environmental impact reasons, the county is saying he can’t. He could, however, sell the land to somebody who will subdivide it and put just as many units on it.

Ramsey noted that prohibitions on mobile homes, and prohibitions on buildilng in floodplains, and prohibitions on buidling on slopes, are giving low-income people few options for residing in Buncombe County. In response, he was essentially advised that the commissioners will learn more about the roles of the Multi-Family Housing Committee and the newly-appointed Tree Committee at their retreat.

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