EWANA 2nd Quarter Neighborhood Meeting Minutes

14 May

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May 13, 2014

Hall Fletcher Elementary (6-8p)

Attending: Approximately 37 total

Food Tray provided by Westgate Earthfare

Mandy Phillips, EWANA Board member, recording

Meeting Moderated by Joshua Martin, Founded EWANA

1. Welcome, sign-in, ground rules, introductions/announcements

2. Crime Updates

—UPDATE ON JOYNER AVE BREAKINS (presented by Community Resource Officer, Sean Davis)

Investigators have opened all crime cases in our area from 2013 and 2014. There have been 4 arrests for the Joyner Ave break-ins. They have evidence that also links those 4 criminals to breakins on Michigan, and other nearby streets. It will take a few weeks to sort through the evidence. They also are considering the possibility that other acquaintances may have been involved and can be charged for assisting (ie girlfriends, etc). **One of the 4 criminals that were arrested in the Joyner Ave break-ins is currently out on bond. APD is hoping to have enough information this week to arrest him on more warrants.

Majority of the break-ins were during the day, a few at night. The criminals did not seem to be armed when breaking-in, but they were stealing firearms. The police are currently in the process of getting a search warrant for the criminals’ properties in Pisgah View. Typical sightings were of people going door to door asking if “so and so” still lives there, or selling magazines, asking to use the phone. Because neighbors reported these incidents, police were able to document sightings and similarities and it greatly helped in catching the criminals. ALWAYS CALL POLICE WHEN YOU SEE SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS (828)252-1110.

—OTHER CRIME UPDATES

Sunny Point and Asheville Sandwich Shop were both broken into a few days ago. The criminals smashed a glass door and window. It is believed that the Sandwich Shop alarm deterred the criminal from actually entering or stealing anything. The criminal did steal items from Sunny Point. They have leads and are working to make an arrest this week.

The Sunrise Drive/Sebring incident- One man has been arrested for stealing a dirt bike. The neighbors were a huge help in this case by reporting information for the police to document. There are also potential firearm charges against the criminal in custody. He was out on parole when he committed that crime, so he is currently being held without bond. And the FBI is expected to be picking up the firearm charge, so that criminal should not be getting out of jail. He is a violent offender and hopefully he will be off the streets now. There were others involved that have been identified and APD hopes to arrest them this week for assisting in the crime.

—HOW TO PREVENT CRIME (presented by Crime Prevention Officer, Keith McCulloch)

Community involvement is key! Know your neighbors, so you can recognize suspicious people. ***ALWAYS CALL POLICE IF YOU SEE SOMEONE SUSPICIOUS. (828)252-1110.

Social Media is proving to be a great resource. Examples include: Facebook, Next Door, neighborhood email lists, etc.

Take a home inventory of your items, serial numbers, photos of your jewelry etc. All of these details will help police track the criminal and hopefully return your items. Items are in the process of being returned to residents on Joyner Avenue. Keith re-iterated the importance of home inventory. It can be so helpful to police.

(SIDE NOTE: Asheville is a leading city in pedestrian accidents. Officer McCulloch brought safety lights for pedestrians and bikers to use!)

—RESOURCES

Police Department Crime Prevention website: assists in home security, gun safety, vehicle theft, etc
http://www.ashevillenc.gov/Departments/Police/PoliceServices/CrimePrevention.aspx

Police2Citizen: look up crime data in your area
https://apdp2c.buncombecounty.org/

Next Door: EWANA has started a group for residents to communicate safely (not public like facebook).
https://nextdoor.com/ (also available as an APP on iPhone)

National Neighborhood Watch: Resource for starting a neighborhood watch program

National Crime Prevention Council: crime prevention tools

 —UPCOMING CRIME PREVENTION MEETINGS

Officer McCulloch is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, June 21 (9am-Noon) to host a Neighborhood Watch Fair. Location TBD.

Officer Davis is working with us to schedule a date to do a walk-through of the neighborhoods to point out areas that could be potential targets for crime and how to correct the problems.

3. New Belgium Updates (Presented by Rich Lee, EWANA Board)

—NBB hosts Roundtable meetings with EWANA and other organized groups. These are not secret, but they are limited to organizations with elected representatives.

—It was originally thought that lots of dirt would have to be brought in, but recent reports of toxicity have shown clean soil present, so NBB should be able to use dirt already on the property instead of bringing truckloads in.

—The noisy part starts next week. Big jackhammer machines will be brought in to set the foundations. Its just as you would expect, loud. Could start as soon as Monday May 19 and could run through beginning or middle of June.

—The Craven Street Project should start early to Mid June (raising the road, adding sidewalks, new sewer lines). This will potentially cause complete blockage of Craven Street. NBB is looking to see if its possible to start at Waynesville and block one direction of Craven and then once that is completed, switch and do the other direction.

—August/September will potentially start pouring the foundation, putting the walls up and the buildings should start coming together quickly.

—Logan Ave, Georgia Street are not in the Craven Project Plans. Not sure what the City or NBB plans to do. It is believed that a local man just purchased land on Georgia and Logan where he is planning to put condos/apartments. How to get Logan and Georgia on the city’s list? Contact McCray Coates, Craven Street Project Manager 828-259-5966

4. Proposed changes to Interstate 26 (presented by Tom Burnet, EWANA Board)

-There was an open house yesterday and mailers sent out to neighbors. This project started in the 90’s and almost died a few years ago, but has been resurrected.

-The overall proposal is to make a new bridge to relieve traffic from the Smokey Park Bridge, but other components of the project have been continually added (included West Asheville to Interstate 40).

-There are sections A, B and C of this project. Section B currently has the most controversy because there are four different alternatives proposed. City Council and Buncombe County have agreed on an alternative of Section B that does not turn Patton Avenue into a Boulevard, rather it keeps 240 using Patton Avenue (as it currently does).

-WAVL: There are 5 proposed lanes on each side of the new interstate (similar to Greensboro). There are traffic studies being done that do not seem to reflect the amount of traffic necessary for that many lanes. 8-10 lanes would take out a LOT of properties in our areas. Is it necessary or is it too big our area?

-DOT has recently been open to the idea of adding bike lanes. An Environmental Impact Statement should be released this Summer and we will work to get that information out to the public.

-Potential Time Frame: The city could begin purchasing properties as early as 2018 and begin the project as early as 2020.

5. Adopt-A-Highway (Presented by Ava Carr, EWANA Board)

-Should EWANA Adopt-A-Highway? Nobody opposed.

-Haywood Road is a highway. If we adopt: we get to put up two signs that list EWANA’s name! We are responsible for 4 clean-ups/year. Our area would go from 240 to the river/bridge before River Arts.

-WECAN has adpoted Haywood Road on the other side of 240

6. Logan Avenue Community Garden (Presented by Ted Figura, EWANA Board)

-The stairs of Logan Circle are owned by the County. But there is another set of historic stairs that is privately owned. It goes from about the Middle of Logan Avenue down to Haywood Road.

-There has been a slight interest to rehabilitate the stairs to create a pathway from Haywood to Logan, but the stairs need a lot of work, very expensive. Currently unsafe. The owner of the property would like to allow the lot at the top of Logan Steps (on Logan Ave) to be used for a Community Garden. That would provide an opportunity for Bountiful Cities to help us find funding to start the garden and fix the staircase.

-Proposition for EWANA to move forward in an exploratory manner to see our options for Community Garden and possibly fixing the stairs. Nobody opposed.

7. Short-Term Rentals (Presented by Kirk Weir, EWANA Board)

GOAL: TO EDUCATE, DISCUSS PROS/CONS, COLLECT INFO TO PASS ALONG TO CITY COUNCIL AT THURSDAY’S MEETING AND REQUEST A DELAY IN VOTING ON THE PROPOSED CHANGES.

-Chapter 7 Code of Ordinances: Homestay Clause (affects all neighborhoods except Downtown.) You as an owner have the right to rent out rooms for profit on a short term basis. The current problem is that people are running Homestays without being properly registered with the City and they are not always meeting the requirements under law. There are currently 2 homestays that are properly registered with the city. There are 430-450 illegal homestays currently operating.

The city only has two people responsible for monitoring and enforcing this law and it is not actively being pursued. If a neighbor turns you in, you may be fined $100 with minimal or no additional follow-up.

—CURRENT LAW

  • No rentals less than 30 days unless in commercial or a registered homestay. (Does not apply to Business District, Residential RS2, RS4, RM6, RM8, RM16).
  • Not charged the same tax as B&B
  • No fees to register
  • Limit of 1-3 rooms may be rented
  • No more than 25% of your total heated sqft may be rented
  • Minimum of 2500sqft house
  • Minimum of 1 night stay, Maximum 14 nights
  • Must serve breakfast or meal
  • Owner must live in the house, must be primary house
  • Must provide Off-street parking: 1 per room, 1 sapce for owner, 1 for employee
  • Must be 500ft between each homestay
  • May have 1 Full-time employee
  • No annual safety checks required
  • No proof of insurance required

—PROPOSED CHANGES

  • Minimum of 1200sqft house
  • Not required to serve breakfast or meal
  • Must provide Off-street parking: 2 spaces with vegetation or screen/fence
  • Ability to use an accessory structure (ex apartment over your garage) as long as its up to code

—DISCUSSION

Q: How will the city enforce the new laws?

Q: Are there too many rules to be enforced? Who is responsible if something to happens in a Homestay.. the owner of the property or the City since they do not require proof of insurance?

Q: Why change the laws at all? Never had a problem in the past.

Q: How will the city enforce it? One house on her street is a homestay, she has no problems with them. Another house on her street is a ST rental off Air B&B, has several complaints.

Q: City should eliminate the sqft limit. Its more important whether its your primary home vs secondary. Should be able to rent your entire house if you want to- should be owners rights. The extra income could help someone afford their mortgage or pay for their vacation. There should be no room limit and the owner should not have to be present.

Q: Can the law restrict Homestays in neighborhoods and only allow in areas like Downtown or on Haywood Road where its commercially zoned?

Q: Can the law restrict Homestays close to schools like Hall Fletcher?

Q: For the changes, for Air B&B (it should be up to the owner), but that being said… if Asheville becomes easier for short term tourists to rent than long term locals, it could hurt the already bad housing market.

Q: City is proposing to tweak the current laws, can they scrap the laws altogether and start new?

Q: In favor of changes because its not going away and we will hurt Asheville if we take it away.

Q: Is there a noise ordinance other than the standard 7am-7pm?

Q: Doesn’t the 500ft restriction eliminate the possibility for many of these to be legally registered?

Straw poll results

~27% even the proposed changes are too restrictive (primarily the 1,200 sqft requirement)

~31% Support the proposed changes   

~12% Support the proposed changes but they are not restrictive enough

~31% Oppose the proposed changes

Meeting concluded 8pm.

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