Let’s talk about the Downtown Master Plan

The draft document of the Downtown Master Plan has been public since last week, but Thursday, Jan. 15, is the official rollout date, when Asheville residents can hear—and comment on—details addressed in the draft, such as building-height and new compliance guidelines and the already-controversial Asheville Design District, a proposed new downtown-management entity. (View the document online at mountainx.com/xpressfiles.)

The $170,000 plan, drafted by the Massachusetts-based firm Goody Clancy at the request of Asheville City Council, drew large crowds at public input sessions last May, and is a recurring topic in discussions of high-profile and controversial development proposals like the Parkside condominiums.

The unveiling of the plan was originally set for September of 2008, but only 10 days before the big day, the Master Plan Advisory Committee, a group of local stakeholders working with Goody Clancy, decided to hold off after they reached several impasses regarding details like height restrictions and design compliance.

An outside mediator was brought in, but with the onset of the holiday season, the committee decided to hold off on the public presentation until the new year. According to an announcement by the city’s project director, Sasha Vrtunski, the Jan. 15 presentation will include more details about that mediation process.

The public presentation will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Asheville Civic Center’s Banquet Hall and will mark the beginning of a three-week comment period in which residents can send their observations and opinions to Goody Clancy via the city’s Web site, www.ashvillenc.gov. If all goes according to plan, the plan will head to Asheville City Council in March for discussion and possible approval.

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