Board of Aldermen postpone vote on Brooks Cove Road annexation, approve COLA increase

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
Black Mountain entry sign

The Board of Aldermen voted to postpone a public hearing for an annexation and rezoning proposal for a Brooks Cove Road property during its Jan. 11 meeting. A vote and future discussion will continue during the board's regularly scheduled meeting in February.

The 16.5-acre tract of undeveloped land is on a dead-end road featuring 17 homes. Property owner William Honeycutt says the annexation and proposed rezoning to UR-8 would allow for the use of town water and potential development.

Planning Board member Jesse Gardner, who represents Honeycutt and did not vote during the Planning Board's approval of Honeycutt's request, said the area could be used to create affordable housing.

"We're trying to build affordable communities in the Black Mountain area to provide housing both for families, seniors, first-time home buyers, all of the above," Gardner said.

William Honeycutt's land off of Brooks Cove Road.

A current plan for the area is to build 45-50 single-family homes. The development would still occur should the board vote to not annex the property, Gardner noted, but it is close to a Black Mountain property designated UR-8.

Honeycutt's property sits on the eastern edge of Buncombe County and the western edge of Black Mountain in unincorporated territory. It is currently designated R-1 by the county, which allows for 10 units per acre compared to eight per acre under a UR-8 designation.

Citizen comments urged against the annexation with concerns for the shorter width of the road and flooding from the nearby creek. However, should the land be annexed, Gardner added, the town's stormwater ordinance would provide proper stormwater infrastructure for development.

"Our plan ... is to be part of this town and build a community that needs a more stringent (stormwater) ordinance," Gardner said. The road is "two feet short of normal."

Regardless of any decision made by the board, town attorney Ron Sneed said that approving annexation and rezoning the property as UR-8 would not guarantee development.

COLA increase

The board voted to approve an increase for the town's cost-of-living adjustment from 1% to 3%. A 1% COLA had previously been budgeted because of COVID-19 and uncertain revenue projections.

Despite a budgeted 15% decrease in revenues for the 2020-21 fiscal year, town manager Josh Harrold said, revenue so far has been "significantly better than" projected.

Sales tax revenue is "looking really good," Harrold added, as the town is $102,000 over what had been budgeted for sales tax. He estimates a 4% increase from the previous year.

The town says the increase in COLA is just under $56,000.

A COLA is an adjustable increase or decrease in Social Security benefits or salaries to counteract any effects of inflation.

Response to events at Capitol

Mayor Larry Harris followed the meeting's opening prayer by addressing the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

"I would like to mirror that prayer that after a week of very divisive and concerning events in our country, that we simply pursue peace as we work with each other as we try to govern and work and lead the town of Black Mountain in our respective jobs as elected officials," Harris said.

After a proclamation in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Harris reiterated one paragraph and said the town should follow "principles of respect for human rights and freedom, of belief of non-violence."

Alderman Tim Raines added his support to Harris' comments.

"The events of that day disturb me, as it did many Americans," Raines said. "I just ask that the people of this community treat each other with respect even though we may have differing views.