BUYING TIME: While some requested data about the Asheville Police Department will be released soon, city staffer Scott Barnwell, right, told City Council, other records requested by activists and Council members will take longer to be made public. Photo by Daniel Walton

Police accountabi­lity and transparen­cy focus of City Council meeting

Amid calls for increased public access to policing data, Asheville City Council left the city’s volunteer board dedicated to hearing residents’ concerns about law enforcement in place for now. At the same time, the elected officials noted many vacancies on the Citizens Police Advisory Committee and signaled their longterm intent to dissolve the body once the newly forming Human Relations Commission has gotten up and running.

WATER PARK  WNC's tourism industry has focused on developing attractions that highlight the region's natural features, says Stephanie Brown of the CVB. Photo courtesy of Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau

Balancing local tourism’s costs and benefits

With an annual economic impact of $2.6 billion, tourism is a critical industry in Western North Carolina. But politicians and local residents are increasingly asking whether the tourism industry is paying a fair share of the cost of providing everything from sidewalks to roads to public safety to tourists. Now, City Councilman Gordon Smith is pushing for a new study to consider the local tourism industry’s impact and sustainability.

City Council will hear a report on the conclusions of a community visioning process as the next step on Haywood Street parcels. Photo by Virginia Daffron

What’s next for Haywood Street site?

One clear winner from the 2015 City Council elections: local hopes for a public space for the city-owned lots facing the Basilica of St. Lawrence and the U.S. Cellular Center. Not so clear: exactly what kind of space Asheville needs and who will pay for it. The city’s Planning and Economic Development committee took up the hot potato issue to try to figure out how to move forward.

Following a moment of silence in remembrance of former Councilman Marc Hunt's son Taylor, Boy Scout Troop 91 led the Pledge of Allegiance. Photo by Virginia Daffron

City Council to take steps on expanding Homestays, planning for park

In its first full meeting since three newly-elected Council members were seated, City Council moved in new directions on a public space for a city-owned lot on Haywood Street and on including some accessory dwelling units in the city’s homestay ordinance for short-term rentals. Council also considered downtown development review standards and passed a resolution on the I-26 connector project.

The roof of Asheville City Hall.

City Council to take fresh look at downtown developmen­t

With four cranes silhouetted against the skyline, construction fencing blocking sidewalks and hundreds of construction workers on the job every day, downtown Asheville is buzzing with development activity. Despite the blazing pace of new construction, City Council has reviewed only four downtown projects since 2010. At its Dec. 8 meeting, City Council will reconsider the thresholds that trigger Council review.