Zoning 101 – Understanding Buncombe County Zoning and Real Estate in Asheville, North Carolina

Zoning can be a confusing issue regardless of where you own real estate, whether it’s a large city like Charlotte (NC), a small city like Asheville (NC) or a rural area like Buncombe County Western North Carolina. Zoning is a tool used to designate individual areas of land for specific purposes. When used correctly zoning can help fast developing cities and counties create a smart growth plan. This is one of the reasons Buncombe County commissioners are implementing new zoning in the metropolitan region surrounding Asheville, North Carolina.

The new zoning, adopted in May of 2007, impacts property owners throughout Buncombe County, as well as future homebuyers, sellers and real estate investors. A clear understanding of the zoning ordinances and restrictions is essential if you are going own real estate. It affects the value of your home and the choices you can make when selling or building on your property. This applies to residential real estate as well as commercial property owners.

Zoning Rules for Real Estate in Asheville, NC: The Importance of Community Accountability

In a video entitled “Will Zoning Affect You?” on the Buncombe County web site, [http://www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/Planning/landUse.htm], Assistant County Manager Jon Creighton explains the county’s motivation for implementing new zoning in the spring of 2007 and describes the proposed zoning changes. He also confirms that concerns about the increasing number of county residents, real estate developers and homes being built on the tops and sides of mountains have compelled Buncombe County and city of Asheville officials to make zoning a priority.

Creighton begins by defining an Open Use zoning designation. Open Use, or OU, is zoning usually found in rural areas. Land considered available for Open Use means property can be purchased and sold for a wide variety of residential and commercial purposes with the exception of certain restricted uses. The uses restricted on Open Use land include incinerators, concrete plants, landfills, asphalt plants, chip mills, mining operations and motor sports facilities.

According to Creighton these types of businesses have a large impact on the community, as a whole, so any real estate investor or property owner interested in these ventures must present a project proposal at a public hearing. This allows other property and homeowners in the Asheville area to hold Western North Carolina business and real estate developers accountable for the impact they have on existing neighborhoods and residents.

How Does Zoning Affect Buyers and Sellers of Mountain Homes and Land Near Asheville, North Carolina?

The comprehensive zoning throughout Buncombe County and Asheville, NC also changed in 2007. Comprehensive zoning differs from Open Use because it separates residential and commercial areas into designations like R-1 and R-2 residential districts, employment districts, and neighborhood and commercial service districts. Buncombe County and Asheville homebuyers and sellers can find their property’s zoning designation using the county’s online GIS system. The system can be found at [http://www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/Planning/landUse.htm].

Property owners and real estate investors interested in changing the zoning designation of specific land can approach the Buncombe County Commissioners and Board of Adjustment. Public hearings are required if an Application for Variances or Conditional Use Permits or an Application to Amend the Buncombe County Zoning Ordinance Text or Maps are submitted. In order to obtain a building permit for any zoning district other than Open Use real estate investors and property owners must file for Certificate of Zoning Compliance. The cost associated with these applications varies.

Size Does Count! Downtown Zoning in Question on Merrimon Avenue

The most recent zoning debate taking place in Buncombe County is actually happening in downtown Asheville, NC. In an article written by Mark Barrett in the January 15, 2008 issue of the Asheville Citizen Times the Asheville City Council will explore two major zoning matters in 2008. First, the developers of the Horizons Project, which would erect nine buildings including two 10-story towers, have asked to postpone a public hearing until July in order to evaluate neighborhood opposition and economic conditions.

Barrett also writes that the Asheville City “council is scheduled to hear from city staff on zoning proposals for the 2.4-mile stretch of Merrimon between Interstate 240 and North Asheville Library near Beaver Lake.” “The city had considered creating a new zoning district for much of the property along the street that would encourage taller buildings closer to the street,” Barrett continues, “but several property owners and some residents objected.”

As Buncombe County moves forward into the future growth is inevitable, but the real effects zoning will have on real estate in Asheville, North Carolina is yet to be seen. Local homebuyers and sellers can achieve more real estate success the more they educate themselves about zoning restrictions and changes. To learn more about zoning or buying and selling real estate in Asheville, NC visit http://www.MarkGJackson.com.

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