They’re back: Discussions on whether and how Asheville should regulate short-term lodging in residential neighborhoods will return to City Council on Tuesday, April 25. The contentious issue has been largely absent from Council Chambers since elected officials accepted the recommendation of a citizen task force to leave the city’s rules governing homestays, a type of short-term rental, unchanged on Dec. 13.
But on Feb. 28, Mayor Esther Manheimer re-introduced the topic, saying she’d like to look at expanding the homestay program to include attached accessory dwelling units, which are also known as ADUs. Currently, the city allows long-term residents to apply for a homestay permit that allows them to rent out no more than two bedrooms to short-term visitors. Homestays aren’t allowed in separate living units, whether they are attached to the main residence (such as a basement apartment) or are located in a separate structure.
Council’s Planning and Economic Development Committee considered a staff report on the issue at its April 19 meeting and recommended bringing the topic to the full Council for additional discussion. The questions Council seems likely to consider range from the sweeping (for example, the impact of allowing more short-term rentals on the availability of long-term housing, especially affordable housing) to the specific (for example, exactly what constitutes an attached versus a detached accessory structure, and could existing structures be retrofitted to establish a qualifying connection to a main residence?).
Along with the perennial hot-button issue of short-term rentals, Council will take on a packed agenda that promises to cover a lot of territory.
Council will proclaim the following:
- April 2017 “Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month”
- April 25 “Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day”
- April 25 “National Day of Prayer”
- April 27-30 “Stand Against Racism Weekend”
- May 2017 “Building Safety Month”
- May 7-13 “National Drinking Water Week”
In its consent agenda, Council will vote on matters including:
- Clarifications regarding the role of Council liaisons to volunteer citizen committees: Each city board or commission is assigned a Council member as a liaison. The proposed policy change provides new wording explaining the liaison’s role and specifying that liaisons “shall not play an active role in deliberation of the board or commission.”
- An ordinance amendment that would prohibit parking in designated bicycle lanes.
- Awarding an installation contract for replacing artificial turf at the John B. Lewis Soccer Complex: Sports Construction Management, Inc. of Lexington, N.C. was the low bidder for the $942,565 contract. The total cost of the turf replacement, including purchasing the turf material, will be $2 million. The Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association will contribute $1,456,960 (which includes a $1.1 million Tourism Product Development Fund grant from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority). The city will contribute $600,000, which is earmarked in the Capital Improvement Program for the Parks and Recreation Department over a five-year period.
- A “Resolution supporting raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 18 in North Carolina for misdemeanants and non-violent felons.”
Presentations and reports
Council will hear a report on “racial demographics of traffic stops and searches in Asheville.” No background material is attached to this agenda item on the city’s website.
Council will also receive a written annual update on the subdivision review process. According to the report, the city has considered eight subdivision proposals under the revised review process, which was implemented a year ago.
Council will hold public hearings on three zoning applications that were heard by the Planning & Zoning Commission on April 5:
- A requested increase in the number of units previously approved as a conditional zoning application for the redevelopment of the Lee Walker Heights public housing neighborhood. The developers, the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville and Mountain Housing Opportunities, request an increase from 199 to 212 units. A new main access road from Biltmore Avenue through the former Matthews Ford property at 319 Biltmore Ave. into the development is also proposed. P&Z unanimously recommended approval.
- Rezoning the waste transfer station at 190 Hominy Creek Road from Institutional District to Institutional District/Conditional Zoning to allow an expansion of the facility. P&Z voted 5-2 to recommend approval of the request.
- An amendment to Chapter 7 of the zoning code that regulates cottage developments. The changes would allow developers greater flexibility in siting clustered, higher-density neighborhoods by removing prohibitions against any site with a 15 percent or greater finished grade. (Cottage developments would still be prohibited on sites where steep site provisions apply.) The changes would also remove a requirement for a 1,000-foot separation between cottage developments. P&Z unanimously recommended approval.
Council will pick up its discussion on district elections from its April 11 meeting, when the elected officials directed City Attorney Robin Currin and City Manager Gary Jackson to draft a plan for appointing a commission to develop a districting methodology and map for the city in preparation for holding a referendum on the issue.
Council’s consideration of its next steps on possible changes to the city’s homestay ordinance for attached accessory dwelling units (described above) will also take place during the unfinished business portion of its agenda.
Council is soliciting applications for the following vacancies on city boards and commissions:
- Civil Service Board
- Homeless Initiative Advisory Committee (individual in Veteran’s Administration)
- Housing Authority of the City of Asheville
- Multimodal Transportation Commission
The deadline to apply for these openings is Wednesday, May 3, at 5 p.m. Call 828-259-5839 for an application form.
Asheville City Council meets at 5 p.m. in Council chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 70 Court Plaza, Asheville. The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found here.
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