Public to weigh in on hotel moratorium extension

Asheville city seal

Tuesday, Sept. 8 is shaping up to be a long day for members of the Asheville City Council. Before its regularly scheduled meeting, the Council’s six members will interview six contenders to fill the seat vacancy left by Vijay Kapoor. Later in the evening, they’ll hear what the community thinks about another hot topic: hotels. 

The year-long hotel moratorium passed by Council last September is set to expire Thursday, Sept. 24. But COVID-19 has “significantly impaired” the city’s ability to stick to its original timeline for public engagement and drafting proposed zoning changes, according to staff reports available before the meeting. 

City staff recommends a two-month extension; if adopted, the moratorium would last through Tuesday, Nov. 24. The extension would give staff time to complete the city’s hotel development study and present proposed zoning changes to Council. 

Under the terms of the moratorium, Council must adopt an ordinance to establish zoning regulations related to hotel development before the moratorium expires. Since 2015, approximately 1,344 hotel rooms have opened in the city of Asheville, representing an annual growth of roughly 4%. 

Branham submits review of APD actions

More than three months after officers with the Asheville Police Department and protesters first clashed during demonstrations following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, City Attorney Brad Branham will present his internal review of the APD’s response to the protests. 

The internal review presents a timeline of events May 29-June 6, with a primary focus on police interactions with protesters on the Jeff Bowen Bridge the night of May 31 and at the volunteer-staffed medic supply station the evening of June 2. 

To complete his review, Branham and city legal department staff interviewed members of Council, City Manager Debra Campbell, APD Chief David Zack, Deputy Police Chief James Baumstark and APD command staff. 

In his report, Branham writes that “all tactical decisions regarding crowd control measures, the use of tear gas, other less-than-lethal munitions and other uses of force were made entirely by APD officers on the ground or by Chief Zack and his command staff.” 

Consent agenda and public comment

The consent agenda for the meeting contains four items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following resolutions: 

  • Adoption of a $1,063,224 budget amendment to consolidate the second round of funding from Buncombe County as part of the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund. The money will be used for all COVID-19 related expenses the city incurs through Wednesday, Dec. 30. 
  • A resolution authorizing Campbell to add $65,000 to an existing service contract with Griffin Waste Services for public handwashing stations and portable toilets. The additional funding brings the contract to $154,000; the services will continue through December 2020. 

Members will also appoint a replacement to fill the Council seat vacated by Vijay Kapoor on Aug. 8. The selected individual will be officially sworn in on Tuesday, Sept. 22, and will serve through 2022.

The full meeting agenda and supporting documents can be found at this link. Due to COVID-19, Council will meet remotely, and the meeting will be livestreamed through Asheville’s Public Engagement Hub

Members of the public who wish to speak during the meeting must now sign up in advance at this link or call 828-259-5900 no later than noon on Monday, Sept. 7. City staff will then use the list of registered speakers to manage the speaker queue during the meeting.

Prerecorded voicemail messages can also be left at 855-925-2801, meeting code 8553; written comments can be sent to AshevilleCityCouncilSept82020@PublicInput.com. Emails will be accepted for 24 hours after each public hearing.

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About Molly Horak
Molly is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and writer for Mountain Xpress. Her work has appeared in the Citizen-Times, News and Observer and Charlotte Observer. Follow me @molly_horak

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