Mediation for Asheville’s Master Plan

The Downtown Master Plan Advisory Committee isn’t a governmental body: It isn’t appointed by Asheville City Council, and Council’s approval is not required before the master-plan proposal being crafted by consultants advances to Council chambers for a vote.

Instead, the committee is made up of people who are interested enough to take part in the process of making sure that Massachusetts-based consulting firm Goody Clancy addresses the concerns of Asheville at large when putting together the plan that will outline the future look and feel of downtown.

In a scenario that is reflective of Asheville at large, the committee is finding a conflict between philosophies of those who want more government control of downtown development and others who see the plan as a further hindrance to downtown businesses. And now the city’s project manager is bringing in professional help to see if a compromise can be reached.

“We’re bringing in a local mediator to see if there’s middle ground,” Sasha Vrtunski told Xpress.

In September, the committee decided to push back the public unveiling of a draft of the Downtown Master Plan after a conference call with Goody Clancy exposed concerns on all sides about details in the draft. Additionally, there was a short discussion considering asking City Council for more money after Goody Clancy Principal in Charge of Urban Design David Dixon told the committee that the project was already over budget. That notion, though, appears to have been scrapped after Vrtunski provided a reality check to the committee on the availability of funding.

“I kind of advised them that it really wasn’t a good idea and that there really is no money,” she said.

The committee will meet a few times in October, but Vrtunski says it is unlikely that the draft will be presented to the public before Thanksgiving.


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