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Buncombe County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. The population estimate for 2010 was 238,318. Its county seat is Asheville.

City of Asheville, NC

Downtown Asheville


The county was formed in 1791 from parts of Burke County and Rutherford County. It was named for Edward Buncombe, a colonel in the American Revolutionary War, who was captured at the Battle of Germantown.

In 1808 the western part of Buncombe County became Haywood County. In 1833 parts of Burke County and Buncombe County were combined to form Yancey County, and in 1838 the southern part of what was left of Buncombe County became Henderson County. In 1851 parts of Buncombe County and Yancey County were combined to form Madison County. Finally, in 1925 the Broad River township of McDowell County was transferred to Buncombe County.

In 1820, a U.S. Congressman, whose district included Buncombe County, unintentionally contributed a word to the English language. In the Sixteenth Congress, after lengthy debate on the Missouri Compromise, members of the House called for an immediate vote on that important question. Instead, Felix Walker rose to address his colleagues, insisting that his constituents expected him to make a speech "for Buncombe." It was later remarked that Walker's untimely and irrelevant oration was not just for Buncombe--it "was Buncombe." Thus, buncombe, afterwards spelled bunkum and then shortened to bunk, became a term for empty, nonsensical talk.

Law and government

There are 100 counties in North Carolina and each one has a Board of Commissioners. In Buncombe County we have a seven member Board serving staggered four-year terms. They are elected by the people in partisan elections.

In Buncombe County the Chairman is elected separately and also serves a four-year term. The Board oversees all the departments in the County through a County Manager form of government. The Board sets policy that is carried out by the County Manager.

The Commissioners enact policies such as establishment of the property tax rate, regulation of erosion control, noise and subdivisions outside municipal jurisdiction, and adoption of the annual budget.

Commissioners meet at 4:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 200 College Street, Suite 326 in downtown Asheville.

Our County Commissioners

Buncombe County, NC Commissioners
David Gantt, a local attorney is serving his fifth term on the Commission, his second as Chairman. He is dedicated to finding new jobs for Buncombe County, providing full funding for education, and advocating for the working people and environment of our community.

David Gantt, Chairman
82 Church Street
Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: (828) 252-2852
Email: commissioner@davidgantt.com

Buncombe County, NC Commissioners
Holly Jones was elected to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners in 2008. She served on Asheville City Council from 2001-2008. She currently serves on the Transportation Advisory Committee, Community Energy Advisory Committee and Land of Sky Council. Commissioner Jones works as a regional director for the YWCA.

Holly Jones - District 1
Phone: (828) 250-4004
Email: holly.jones@buncombecounty.org

Buncombe County, NC Commissioners
Brownie is a partner at FLS Energy, a locally owned solar energy development company and former two term member of Asheville City Council.

Brownie Newman - District 1
Phone: (828) 250-4011
Email: brownie.newman@buncombecounty.org

Buncombe County, NC Commissioners
Mike Fryar has been a resident of Buncombe County for 50 years. He attended A.C. Reynolds High School and served in the U.S. Navy. A self-made man and small business owner for 32 years, Mike started his career sweeping floors for the legendary Banjo Matthews — working his way up the ladder and eventually starting his own engine business, Fryar Performance, in 1980.

Mike Fryar - District 2
Phone: (828) 250-4007
Email: mike.fryar@buncombecounty.org

Buncombe County, NC Commissioners
Ellen is a mother, grandmother, and small business owner who came to western North Carolina in 1996. She is serving her first term as County Commissioner. Ellen has managed a small business all of her working life. After family and community, Ellen's passion is animals. She opened "Bed and Biscuit" in 2001, offering a wide range of services for animals - from pampered show dogs to abused animals undergoing rehabilitation, to hunting dogs, to service dogs, and to everyone's best friend. Ellen says she has found if in life you are fair, honest, and positive in your approach, the results will be rewarding.

Ellen Frost - District 2
Phone: (828) 250-4005
Email: ellen.frost@buncombecounty.org

Buncombe County, NC Commissioners
A 32 year resident of Buncombe County, Joe is a member of Maple Ridge Baptist Church in Candler and is Vice President with Berkshire Hathaway (Clayton Homes) company.

Joe Belcher - District 3
Phone: (828) 250-4008
Email: joe.belcher@buncombecounty.org

Buncombe County, NC Commissioners
With family going back seven generations in Western North Carolina, David King's roots are deep in our community. David was born in Asheville and retired after 20 years in manufacturing. David now works as a well-respected farrier in Western North Carolina.

David King - District 3
Phone: (828) 250-4010
Email: david.king@buncombecounty.org


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 660 square miles, of which 656 square miles is land and 4 square miles is water.

The French Broad River enters the county at its border with Henderson County to the south and flows north into Madison County. The source of the Swannanoa River, which joins the French Broad River in Asheville, is in northeast Buncombe County at Mount Mitchell. A milestone was achieved in 2003 when Interstate 26 was extended from Mars Hill (north of Asheville) to Johnson City, Tennessee completing a 20-year half-billion dollar construction project through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Cities & Townships

The county is divided into twenty-one cities, townships & communities which include:

  • Asheville
  • Avery Creek
  • Bent Creek
  • Biltmore Forest
  • Black Mountain
  • Broad River
  • Fairview
  • Flat Creek
  • French Broad
  • Ivy
  • Leicester
  • Limestone
  • Lower Hominy
  • Montreat
  • Reems Creek
  • Royal Pines
  • Sandy Mush
  • Swannanoa
  • Upper Hominy
  • Weaverville
  • Woodfin

Township Locations of Buncombe County of Western North Carolina

(Click map above to enlarge)


As of the census of 2010, there were 238,318 people, 96,465 households residing in the county out of which 6.1% had children under the age of 5, 20.8% had children under the age of 18 and 15.9% were over the age of 65. The average persons per household was 2.47. The population density was 361 per square mile. There were 110,587 housing units at an average density of 168 per square mile.

The racial makeup of the county was:

  • 87.4% White
  • 6.4% Black or African American
  • 0.4% Native American
  • 1.0% Asian
  • 0.1% Pacific Islander
  • 6.0% Hispanic or Latino
  • 2.1% from two or more races

The median income for a household in the county was $40,979. The per capita income for the county was $26,209. 16.2% of the population were below the poverty line.

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