The City of Asheville will hold a drop-in meeting about development issues in downtown Asheville from 4 to 6:30 p.m. March 23 in Lord Auditorium in Pack Memorial Library, 67 Haywood St. City Council is interested in making changes to development rules for the Central Business District. These rules were last written in 2010, after the adoption of the Downtown Master Plan in 2009. The recent surge in downtown development has caused some reconsideration of how projects are reviewed.
At the meeting, three main topics will be discussed:
- Levels of review;
- The process for Level III projects; and
- The hotel development process.
Council has indicated that they would like to review more projects in the Central Business District. Currently projects have to be larger than 175,000 square feet or 145 feet tall before they are heard by City Council. Below this level, Level II projects (above 20,000 square feet and under 145 feet tall) are heard by the Planning and Zoning Commission for final approval.
The second issue is about Level III projects in the Central Business District. Currently, there is an area called the Traditional Downtown Core. Large projects within this boundary are reviewed as Conditional Zonings, outside of this area, large projects are reviewed as Conditional Use Permits. The difference between these two processes are technical, but have an impact on both how City Council receives information about the project, and how the project is reviewed.
The third issue centers on hotel development. City Council and some citizens have expressed concerns about hotels in downtown. Hotels could be reviewed under a Conditional Use Permit or Conditional Zoning as a category. One possibility is that hotels over a certain size or number of rooms could be considered either Conditional Use or Conditional Zoning. No thresholds have been determined yet.
“The changes made in 2010 to the UDO have greatly enhanced downtown development review,” said Planning Director Todd Okolichany. “This meeting is about refining the process and we want to make sure that folks who participated in the Downtown Master Plan process as well as the community in general, get a chance to weigh in before moving forward with amendments to the UDO.”
Staff will give a short presentation at 4:15 p.m. and then again at 5:45 p.m., which will give attendees background and an understanding of the issues under consideration. After each staff presentation, participants can visit any or all of the stations for each of these topics.
“The Downtown Commission initiated the creation of the Downtown Master Plan, and we are hoping that downtown business owners, residents and property owners will turn out for this meeting,” said Commission Chair Adrian Vassallo. “These changes could impact development review in the Central Business District.”
For more information, email Sasha Vrtunski at email@example.com or call 828-259-5560.