Potential affordable housing projects on county land, cryptocurrency mining regulations with a possible year-long moratorium and a quarterly financial report were all on the agenda for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners’ briefing and meeting on Feb. 21.
Here are the details.
Affordable housing projects on county land identified by UNC School of Government group
The Development Finance Initiative at the UNC School of Government, which advises local governments with specialized finance and development expertise, presented potential projects that the county could undertake to create affordable housing.
“Our work is not meant to be a report that you leave on your desk,” Development Finance Initiative team member Sarah Odio said during her presentation. “We will get you a partner, and we will get you shovels in the ground.”
The group analyzed sites with the goals of increasing the housing stock for low- and moderate-income residents, making use of county-owned properties that do not serve much of a purpose, capitalizing on existing infrastructure and maximizing public benefit with minimal cost, Odio said.
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The studied sites and the results were:
50 Coxe Ave.:
Four-story building with 40 units
County cost: $60,000 per unit
52 Coxe Ave.:
Four-story building with 80 units
County cost: $10,000 per unit
The Coxe Avenue sites could potentially be linked, Odio said, increasing the potential for federal funding.
26-46 Valley St. (north portion only):
Four-story building with 70 units
County cost: $56,000 per unit
26-46 Valley St. (whole site):
Six-story building with 150 units
County cost: $51,000 per unit
An existing building on site is occupied.
35 Woodfin St. Parking Lot:
180 Erwin Hills:
Four-story building with 160 units
County cost: $27,000 to $48,000 per unit
A bus station would need to be placed nearby to get federal funding.
Each site, Odio said, has the potential to start construction within five years. Longer term solutions may be considered, too, but these are good short-term solutions, especially with 915 subsidized units set to expire in next 10 years, she said.
The presented analysis is only phase one. The next phase will begin once Commissioners pick three of the four projects for the Development Finance Initiative team to dive deeper into, which will likely be decided at the next Board meeting on March 7.
Cryptocurrency mining operation moratorium could be coming
Large cryptocurrency mining operations, which are basically large warehouses full of computers, are currently not specified as a land use within the county’s zoning ordinances, but that could be changing.
Planning Director Nathan Pennington told Commissioners there were two ways forward: Do nothing and treat cryptocurrency mining centers like warehouses, which are specified under current zoning codes, or place a moratorium on all cryptocurrency mining operation applications for one year while staff does research and develops recommendations and standards.
Commissioners were in favor of the moratorium and study option, but before it can be approved, legal language needs to be created to fulfill strict state laws. Commissioners are expected to hold a public hearing on the topic in April.
The county currently has no applications for a cryptocurrency mining operation, Pennington said.
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Quarterly financial report shows $230.7 million in revenue
A quarterly financial report that represents the halfway point of the fiscal year showed the county had collected $230.7 million, or 56.7% of the revenue it budgeted to receive, with expenditures at around $192 million, which is 47.1% of budget. Revenues are up 4.5% over this time last year, but expenditures are up 11.5%.
$1.1 million grant awarded to Justice Services
Buncombe County Justice Services was selected to receive a $1.1 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Board of Commissioners voted to accept the money into the budget.
“The infusion of additional funding, the third Buncombe County has received, will serve to grow, and support initiatives to safely reduce Buncombe County’s jail population and advance racial equity,” a news release about the grant said.
Christian Smith is the general assignment reporter for the Asheville Citizen-Times. Questions or comments? Contact him at RCSmith@gannett.com or 828-274-2222. Please help support this type of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Cryptocurrency, affordable housing on agenda for Buncombe County Board