After months of debate and $170,000 in taxpayer money, the city of Asheville on Thursday unveiled the final version of the Downtown Master Plan, intended to shape the future direction of downtown economically, culturally and architecturally.
The plan would aim to focus certain types of development in certain areas, streamline the development approval process, increase mass transit and foster better planned economic development, among other goals.
Under the plan, the city would implement a comprehensive set of design guidelines, reduce City Council’s authority over development projects to create a more “predictable” approval process and eventually turn much of the day-to-day management of downtown over to the “Community Improvement District” or CID.
That last proposal has attracted some controversy, with some community activists attacking it as taking many important decisions out of the hands of the community. The CID would do everything from coordinate the hours retail businesses are open to buying and selling property to installing police cameras around downtown.
The plan now notes that the CID’s structure would be drafted by an ad-hoc “pursuit group” made up of “downtown’s diverse constituencies, including members of the Downtown Commission, Asheville Downtown Association, Downtown Asheville Residential Neighbors, the Preservation Society, Council of Independent Business Owners, the Asheville Hub, arts agencies, property owners, major employers and major institutions.”
The master plan was developed by Massachusetts-based consulting firm Goody Clancy, with input from the Downtown Master Plan Advisory Committee and several public forums.
From here, the plan will go to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission on April 1, to the Downtown Commission on April 3 and to the advisory committee during the week of April 6. It will go before Asheville City Council on May 12, but council is not expected to vote on the plan at that meeting, according to a release from the city.
The full release is below.
— David Forbes, staff writer
Downtown Master Plan Released
The finalized Downtown Master Plan has been released and is available for viewing on the city’s website at www.ashevillenc.gov/downtownmasterplan. The plan is the culmination of a planning process that included meetings with the public, city commissions and stakeholder groups.
The final plan will be reviewed by several groups including the Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday, April 1; The Downtown Commission on Friday, April 3; and The Downtown Master Plan Advisory Committee will discuss the plan the week of April 6.
On Tuesday, May 12, the plan will be presented to Asheville City Council. The consultants will provide detailed information to and answer questions from the Council. Due to the complex nature of the plan, it is not expected that Council will take action during the formal meeting on May 12th. Public comment and discussion regarding specifics of the plan will take place prior to adoption and at a future Council meeting, yet to be determined.
For more information on the Downtown Master Plan process, email Sasha Vrtunski at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ms. Vrtunski at 828-232-4599