“The city allowed the builder to go through all the expensive steps required to get total approval from all regulatory agencies, and then several Council members announced their intent to vote against it because, in their great wisdom, they have made the arbitrary decision that Asheville already has too many hotels.”
Two lodging projects will be up for debate: a 56-room hotel spread across four buildings on Biltmore Avenue downtown and a 170-room project on Fairview Road in Biltmore Village. The first proposes to convert three historic houses into accommodations and construct a new five-story structure with a restaurant, while the second would build a new six-story building.
Asheville City Council will hear public comment on two proposed hotel projects and an economic development incentive grant at its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 11. City parking fines will rise on Feb. 1, 2019.
Amanda Edwards’ first day in the hot seat should be fairly chill.
According to interim City Manager Cathy Ball, Council held a closed session vote on the amount of Hooper’s $118,000 compensation. Mayor Esther Manheimer, Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler, and Council members Keith Young, Sheneika Smith and Brian Haynes all voted in favor of the agreement, while Vijay Kapoor and Julie Mayfield voted in opposition.
A quarter-cent sales tax on all purchases in Buncombe County would be earmarked for transit improvements, as required by state law, while a 1 percent tax on prepared foods and beverages bought in the city could be used as general funds. Both taxes would require approval by voter referendum, projected to take place in 2020.
At City Council’s Nov. 13 budget work session, four department directors spoke about their troubles with obtaining bids on service and construction contracts, recruiting qualified employees and retaining current staff. Burgeoning activity in other parts of the economy, they said, had created stiff competition for workers.
Due to construction cost increases that made rentals infeasible, the Kassinger Development Group proposed a for-sale condo plan. Of 64 total units, 33 would be affordable, with the city providing support through a $1.28 million Housing Trust Fund loan and a $375,000 discount on the land itself.
If City Council votes to approve the proposed Charlotte Street Improvement Project, the road would be cut from four car lanes to three, making room for dedicated bike lanes and pedestrian improvements. Should Council approve the plan, bidding for construction is projected to begin this winter, with construction to start next spring or summer and finish by fall.
“Now Asheville has joined the community of cities and counties taking responsibility for the climate into their own hands, rather than waiting for our state or national government to take the lead.”
In place of its current small business and retail tenants, the Flatiron Building could play host to overnight guests as an 80-room hotel. Owner Russell Thomas and Charleston, S.C.-based developer Philip Woollcott say lodging use is the only business model able to support extensive needed renovations to the historic structure.
Todd Okolichany, Asheville’s director of planning & urban design, said the city’s Unified Development Ordinance was in need of an extensive and holistic review. While the city has made “Band-Aid edits,” he explained, the last major revision of Asheville’s main development code took place in 1997.
“Firestorm treats with humanity those patrons who are respectful, including the homeless looking for a safe place to stay for a couple hours.”
“At the very least, City Council or the Wildlife Commission could stage a ‘bear summit’ to document the number and character of close calls.”
After Mayor Esther Manheimer and Council members Keith Young and Brian Haynes shared their intent to reject the project, attorney Wyatt Stevens pulled the building from consideration on behalf of his clients, local hoteliers Pratik Bhakta and Monark Patel.
“I really wish Council would adjust their priorities and think of us who pay extra fees for our vehicles ($30), dog licenses ($10), chicken registration ($25) and so much more — the 2018 Fees and Charges Manual is over 120 pages and is an interesting read.”
“I think Asheville could lead the way by posting colorful educational signs throughout the city listing ways for each of us to protect the planet, with eliminating meat and dairy at the top of the list.”
“What we need most from the mayor and Council is visionary, courageous, and determined commitment to the ‘mission’ of making Asheville a real Climate City.”
Although Chicago-based 21CP Solutions finished its report on Asheville’s response to a police beating scandal in August, the city isn’t done hiring consultants to assess its policing approach. That’s one of the key takeaways from interim City Manager Cathy Ball’s memo discussing action items from the report, to be presented at Asheville City Council’s upcoming regular meeting.
In a process not open to the public, Council has selected a committee of “key community leaders” to help review candidates for the most powerful unelected official in city government. City spokesperson Polly McDaniel said the panel will provide “input and perspective on a list of candidates,” adding that members “will serve in an advisory role.”