Expanded bus routes and hours could help more Asheville residents gain consistent access to healthy food. But a more effective city transit system may be a little way down the road.
While last year’s City Council retreat focused on strategy, this year was all about tactics. Council celebrated the successes of 2016 — including passing a $74 million bond referendum, launching an equity initiative and retaining control of the city’s water system — and outlined tweaks to how it will operate in 2017.
Goals and priorities emerged when the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners held its retreat on Friday, Feb. 17. Among priorities are continuing to increase teacher pay while looking at expanding access to preschool across the county.
Through their elected leaders, Asheville voters will now have more say-so over development projects downtown and new hotels citywide.
After more than a year of public input and review, proposed development changes that would bring more downtown projects before Council for review will go to a vote on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The new rules also include a provision for Council to review all hotel projects with 21 rooms or more anywhere in the city.
‘The current Council may be ineffective, but its composition is a testament to the efficiency and integrity of at-large representation — at nearly half female, one-in-seven minority, it mirrors the makeup of the city.”
The Council of Independent Business Owners returned to the topic of district elections for seats on Asheville City Council at its monthly Issues Meeting on Feb. 10. Unsurprisingly, opinions on the wisdom of making a change were mixed.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and Asheville City Council held their first joint meeting in more than one year on Tuesday, Feb. 7. While it was mostly presentations and information updates, Commissioners Al Whitesides and Mike Fryar used the time to question the African-American Heritage Commission and energy efficiency, respectively.
At City Council’s first budget work session since city voters approved a $74 million bond referendum, elected officials considered how to move forward on planning for the use of the funds. In one key decision, Council members agreed to assess three properties for potential city-led affordable housing development.
Rich Lee, the fourth-place finisher in the 2015 Asheville City Council elections (meaning he missed out on a seat by a few hundred votes) has announced he will run again in 2017.
County commissioners and City Council members will meet up to discuss their common goals and projects. The gathering is the first of its kind in more than a year. Intended to showcase synergies between the two governmental entities, the meeting agenda doesn’t include any official action items.
City Council voted unanimously to deny the zoning request for a 185-room hotel at 192 Haywood St. at its Jan. 24 meeting. Police Chief Tammy Hooper gave an update on policing in the city in 2016.
Asheville City Council will consider another large hotel for downtown Asheville at its meeting on Jan. 24. With 185 rooms in a nine-story building at 192 Haywood St., the proposed Embassy Suites Hotel is the type of project that has generated widespread public attention and no small measure of controversy — and which Council seems hard-pressed to curb under existing zoning regulations.
“So here is my challenge to the Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Board of Commissioners for 2017: Create a few dozen part-time jobs, and title them Street Sweeps.”
City Council hosted chairs of the city’s boards and commissions at a luncheon at the U.S. Cellular Center on Jan. 10.
On Jan. 10., Asheville City Council approved the free downtown shuttle service offered by Slidr, a request to voluntarily annex a 4.8-acre parcel in South Asheville and an amendment to the zoning approval for the RAD Lofts housing development on Roberts Street. Council also agreed to move forward with a study of voters’ attitudes about district elections for positions on City Council.
“Many people believe, as I do, that the majority of City Council members have been influenced by the hotel lobby — the elephant standing in the city’s living room.”
The public hearing scheduled for Council’s Tuesday, Jan. 10 meeting on the zoning request for a 185-room Embassy Suites Hotel at 192 Haywood St. has a “100 percent chance” of being continued until a later Council meeting, according to Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer earlier today. No alternate date has been identified for the hearing yet, said City Clerk Maggie Burleson.
New year, new hotel. Asheville City Council will review its first zoning request for 2017, and it’s a big one: the proposed 185-room Embassy Suites hotel on Haywood Street, across the street from the Hotel Indigo and the Hyatt Place and next door to the Carolina Apartments.
City Council postponed a decision on Pritchard Park improvements, approved affordable housing grants of over $500,000 for a controversial South Asheville apartment complex, retained the city’s existing ban on homestays in accessory dwelling units and pitched in to support a planning collaboration that aims to expand access to preschool to all children in Buncombe County.