Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:
Question: The question I have is in regards to the pavement quality of the new I-26 section, between the airport and Biltmore Park exits in particular. I drive on this section of highway five or six days a week, some days multiple times. I was excited when they opened the newly completed concrete section, but I noticed right away that it is bumpy and rough. Considerably rougher compared to the section by the outlets that was completed years ago and that is nice and smooth. I assume the choice to go with concrete versus asphalt is for durability reasons. My question is: is this the finished product, or will there be another coat to smooth things out? Does the NCDOT have a quality control process regarding this? (Note: Another reader asked a very similar question, noting that the concrete on the Henderson County portion of the project is much smoother).
My answer: You’ve got to love a place to live where we get excited about new concrete.
Real answer: I am a regular driver of this section, too, and have noticed the same thing — it’s truly a bumpy, bouncy ride for brand new concrete.
But, happily, this will not be the finished product.
Luke Middleton, resident engineer for the I-26 widening project in Buncombe County, noted that the project spans Henderson and Buncombe counties, and it involves two separate contractors.
In Buncombe, Fluor Corp. formed a joint venture with United Infrastructure Group to complete that section of the widening. In Henderson County, a joint venture between the Archer Western company and Wright Brothers Construction is handling the widening.
“They are on different schedules due to the different natures of the projects,” Middleton said via email. “The contractor in Henderson County has performed diamond grinding on the westbound section between U.S. 25 Business (Exit 44) and Airport Road (Exit 40).”
That has not happened in Buncombe County. Yet.
“Fluor-United anticipates diamond grinding at least the south section between Long Shoals Road (Exit 37) and Airport Road (Exit 40) within the next year, after they’ve completed the paving of the eastbound side in this section,” Middleton said.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation does have smoothness requirements for the final surface, “and the entire stretch of I-26 from I-40 to U.S. 64 will meet these requirements before NCDOT accepts the projects as complete,” Middleton said.
The $531 million I-26 widening project started in October 2019 and should wrap up in 2025.
Question: There is a vacant lot at the corner of Hanover and State Streets, across Hanover from China Taste, and behind the bus stop. The lot has been trashed for years now, and it is a regular camping spot for those experiencing homelessness. The owners of the property appear to be Farmbound Holdings, and I am curious if the city can hold a holding company responsible for maintaining the lot. There have been many requests to clean up the lot, but it appears that nothing is being done. What can the city do if the holding company does not clean up the lot? Is there a process of increasing fines or acquisition if the lot remains in its current unmaintained state? What can the average citizen do to help get a property like this in their neighborhood cleaned up?
My answer: Wait a sec — there’s a vacant lot in Asheville? I suspect six of those tall, skinny homes will be on it by year’s end.
Real answer: When I drove by this lot last week it looked better than I thought it would, but it’s also tough to see much as it’s got a lot of vegetation on it, including a kudzu jungle.
The city is aware of the issues there, though, and some actions are in the works.
“As of Sept. 22, the owner has been given an opportunity to resolve the issue,” city of Asheville spokesperson Kim Miller said via email. “The next step will be issuing a Notice of Violation.”
The property owner has told city staff that they’re following procedures to file “no trespassing” documentation, “with the intent to enforce it to reduce costly clean-ups of the property,” Miller added.
Regarding what average citizens can do about situations like this, Miller checked in with the city’s Sanitation Department, noting the city does have a process to address overgrown or littered lots. First, she noted that residents can submit sanitation violations via the Asheville App, and then the city’s Sanitation Department will work with the owners to bring the property into compliance.
This can take some time, as a Sanitation Department code enforcement officer will notify and work with the owner to address the issue.
“The first step is always to communicate with the owner to notify them of the issue and give them an opportunity to cure the issue,” Miller said. “If that does not happen, then Sanitation issues a Notice of Violation, which gives the owner up to 30 days to bring the property into compliance.”
If it’s not, Sanitation can issue a one-time extension of up to 30 days, or it can move to the next step, a citation.
This is not the good kind of a citation. This type can result in a civil penalty of $100 per day for each day that the violations continue.
“This citation will remain in effect until the violation is corrected, and the amount of civil penalties assessed may accrue up to $5,000 if the violation is not corrected,” Miller said. “If still not corrected at that point, the city cas other legal avenues it can pursue.”
As far as responsibility, Miller said the owners or agents of the property, or tenants or those leasing it, can be held responsible.
The reader is correct that the owner of this property is listed as Farmbound Holdings LLC. The North Carolina Secretary of State’s office has this LLC listed as active.
I reached out to the registered agent, Asheville attorney Gregory S. Hilderbran, and the LLC’s listed manager, Erica Johnson, but I didn’t hear back by deadline.
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