Future vision

A proposed zoning plan for the Haywood Road corridor , which would regulate development based on six types of districts, received mostly positive feedback from residents and business owners at a March 27 open house. The “form-based code,” a marked departure from current practice, could become a model for rezoning other parts of Asheville.

“We’ve been engaged in the vision plan since 2002, and this is the next logical step,” observes Alice Oglesby, a longtime member of the Haywood Road Corridor Committee. “When the city was looking for a test area for this form-based code, we were ideal, because we already had this huge community voice and community vision.” Council unanimously approved the Haywood Road Vision Plan Feb. 25.

The six district types (whose restrictions would apply only to new development in the designated areas) are:
• Core Districts: Intended to preserve existing buildings and the area’s historic character. New development could not exceed two stories, to discourage demolishing historic structures. Could include a variety of businesses and residential or office space on upper floors.
• Expansion Districts: Adjoining the two core districts are zones earmarked for extending “the urban character of the core.” Buildings could be up to four stories; ground-floor residential use allowed. Buildings in most districts would be close to the road to promote walkability.
• Corridor Districts: Linking the two core and two expansion districts, the corridor zones would “provide a green frontage” to differentiate them from the more urban areas. Buildings, predominantly office and residential, could be up to three stories and would be set back from the road.
• Traditional District: A single district extending from Beecham’s Curve toward the river. Buildings up to two stories; various residential and commercial uses allowed, provided they don’t require extensive parking.
• Live-Work District — Closer to the river, this one would allow three-story residential buildings with ground-floor studio space, as in the River Arts District.
• Town District — Located where Haywood meets Patton Avenue; buildings up to six stories, wide variety of residential and commercial uses allowed.

“I think they’ve done an outstanding job of interpreting everything,” says Oglesby. “There’s a lot going on up and down the road, and they’ve done a really outstanding job looking at things in a holistic fashion.”

The most common concern raised by residents and business owners was parking — already a problem for businesses in the corridor. All six districts would prohibit parking in between buildings and the road.

In general, however, residents say they appreciate the amount of input they’ve had in developing the plan.

“The challenges have been talked through already,” notes Oglesby. “If people get to participate, have ownership, feel like their voice is heard, then it’s easier to compromise if it comes down to it.”

West Asheville resident Timothy Sadler, who’s attended several of the form-based code meetings, agrees.

“I think it’s a great testament to Asheville,” he says. “It’s really democracy in action — it’s a beautiful thing. We get to help shape how the city looks for the next hundred years.”

Resident Steve Rasmussen, who’s also been following the process closely, concurs.

“I think they’ve put a lot of thought into it,” he points out. “I really like how it’s oriented around historic preservation. It’s a pretty innovative way to do it, at least around here.”

On April 24, planners will present an updated version of the document incorporating the public’s suggestions. After that, the plan will need to be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and then City Council before it can take effect.

— Jesse Farthing can be reached at jefarthing@gmail.com.

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About Jesse Farthing
Jesse Farthing can be reached at jefarthing@gmail.com.

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