Deciding what gets built on an empty lot down the street should, according to state law, begin with decisions about what gets built across an entire city or county. Counties and municipalities that want to have zoning in their jurisdiction first need to write a comprehensive plan that looks at big questions like which areas are best for growth.
This year’s event — the first since the start of the pandemic — covered affordable housing, hotel regulations, Urban Place Zoning and more.
Asheville, home to more than 8,465 hotel rooms and counting, is providing a pathway for hotel operators to rack up some major brownie points by incorporating sustainable features and practices in plans for new hotel construction.
The new regulations allow hotels with 115 rooms or fewer to avoid a Council vote if they meet a series of design requirements, are located in a newly approved overlay district and contribute to equity-related public benefits.
After months of discussion, two Council work sessions and multiple opportunities for public engagement, frustrated residents told Asheville City Council the final hotel proposals did little to advance equity or support employees working in the service industry.
Two work sessions have brought Asheville City Council members a little closer to agreement on an approach to hotels. And with the city’s hotel development moratorium set to expire on Tuesday, Feb. 23, time is running out to craft a plan.
Zoning may not deliver the same zing as other hot-button issues in a competitive election cycle, but it’s among the most crucial discussions Asheville leaders and residents face as the city grows. Each candidate has different ideas about what to do first.
Members expressed unanimous support for extending the city’s hotel moratorium — previously set to expire later in September — an additional five months, giving Council and city staff more time to fully develop new standards for hotel development.
Buncombe County had a 76% response rate during the 2010 census, in line with the state average, but Asheville officials will try to raise participation to 80% next year. The city will join Buncombe’s Complete Count Committee to work alongside county government, area schools and universities, nonprofit and faith communities, business leaders and the media to spread information about the count.
At Asheville City Council’s June 25 meeting, Council member Julie Mayfield flipped on her previous opposition to the project, joining Mayor Esther Manheimer, Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler and Vijay Kapoor to complete a majority vote that allowed the rezoning of the historic building for hotel use.
Council members will consider whether to authorize City Manager Debra Campbell to pursue funding for a final site plan at 68-76 Haywood St. and 33-39 Page Ave. The estimated cost of such a design is $340,000, including $16,000 for an updated survey of the property.
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.
Reid Thompson, the owner of 28 and 32 Maxwell St., seeks to rezone those properties from residential to lodging expansion, thereby allowing their short-term vacation rental use — because the activity of Greenlife Grocery, he says, has made it impossible for him to keep long-term tenants.
City Manager Gary Jackson hosted a Development Forum on Friday, Nov. 18 to provide updates on growth, construction, planning, zoning, utilities and the recently approved $74 million city bond referendum.
Asheville City Council set itself up for a heavier workload with its decision to move forward on changing city ordinances to reduce the size of development projects Council will review. If the current pace of development continues, more projects will come before Council for approval. Council also signaled its intent to review all but the smallest hotel projects in response to concerns that hotel development has gotten out of hand.
Through two discussion sessions and a survey on its online public input platform, the city of Asheville is soliciting feedback on strategies to increase housing density and, it hopes, ease the city’s housing crisis.
Asheville’s last comprehensive city plan was completed in 2003. Since then, the city has gained 16,000 residents and embarked on a wide range of revitalization, infrastructure and multimodal transportation projects. Now it’s time to begin a new planning process that will span a year and a half and involve a broad cross-section of the city’s residents.
The city asked for input on downtown development review standards and, if turnout can be considered an indication, it certainly got it. At least 124 members of the community signed in for an open house-style meeting about development issues in downtown Asheville on March 23.
On Tuesday, Feb. 23, City Council will consider strategies for housing the city’s growing population. Over $1 million in low-interest affordable housing loans will come to a Council vote, and city planning director Todd Okolichany will present a proposal for updating existing ordinances to encourage higher density infill development in residential areas.
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.
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.