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What do you think about downtown development review process?

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Development review thresholds results

Open City Hall engagement

This topic had 139 visitors and 50 verified responses*. That's 2.5 hours of public comment @ 3 minutes per response. It was open to the public from June 13 to July 10.

*Verified responses are those of registered users whom reside within the City of Asheville limits.

Background:

In March, the City of Asheville held a public meeting about downtown development issues. 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 were 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.  Also, City Council and some citizens have expressed concerns about the review process for hotels in downtown. The City received some feedback at the March meeting, but City Council would like more participation in the discussion to help inform their decision making.

Survey results

QUESTION 1: Only Level III projects are reviewed by City Council. Do you think this threshold needs to be changed?

Yes                         61.2%

No                          34.7%

Uncertain                 4.1%

If yes, in what way:

32 answered

18 skipped

Specific answers to this question:

Unless there are clear guidelines, conditional use zoning can get around the intent of the original zoning ordinances.....so I think either we need stricter guidelines, or Council needs to review all projects.

Level II and III should be reviewed

I think all level 2 and 3 developments in town should be reviewed and voted on by people culpable to the electorate.

City Council should review all level 2 and level 3 projects. These projects should be reviewed and passed by those who are accountable to the citizens of Asheville.

Elected officials, who are accountable to the voters for the "look and feel" of the downtown area, need authority to insist on development plans that are consistent with maintaining the integrity of our beautiful city. Our voters have voiced their feelings that the existing unique character of the City needs to be maintained. We do not need another Aloft, Hyatt Place, BRTT Building. Design guidelines do not need to require expensive materials of the builders, nor do they need to be extensive for the builder, but they must contribute to our existing "look and feel."

Considering the level of development in the city, level II development should also be reviewed by city council. If development should become less intense in the future, review could be returned to only level III projects.

reviews on smaller projects

Planning and Zoning are business people, many with real estate connections. Behind the scenes discussions can take place and votes taken against the interests of citizens. City Council is voted in by citizens and more likely to represent the majority view.

I am in favor of Council being able to advocate for affordable housing units to be included (mandated) in development projects. Too many projects in CBD favor the affluent.

review all level II and III projects

Level II projects should also be reviewed by City Council

level II projects should be reviewed by council

I think council is concerned about hotels. I also think downtown commission should have manditory review and manditory compliance as part of the review before it moves on to P&Z

Eliminate City Council review except in zoning appeals

Smaller developments currently classified as Level II can have a major effect on the city and should be subject to public consideration before they are permitted.

I think there should be Level II review by City Council when the overall use of the building is changing. Ex. Windsor Hotel went from, basically, SRO housing to a "boutique" hotel. The bar on Walnut that went from a club to a huge, street size, open fronted speaker.

All should be CZ process, drop CUP from process. Benefitcial for Council to be able to discuss project with developer and general public before hearing. Leads to better projects and cooperation.

Added oversight

Level II projects can result in major changes in the aesthetic and function of neighborhoods and the downtown area, and therefor should be reviewed by City Council.

Level II projects can impact the look and feel of our city as well as contribute to congested parking, traffic etc. They should be reviewed to maintain the appeal and integrity of downtown and whether the development is consistent with City Council's goals (affordable housing, parks and green space, sustainability). Design is very key in any downtown or historic area project (large or small). It is not too much to ask developers to consider scale and materials.

Non-elected people who we often don't know make decisions that are mostly hidden from the public's view.

The Council should review level II and level III projects.

City Council should also review Level II projects. A building 145 ft high (about 12 stories) needs the highest scrutiny.

Lower the sq. footage limit on Level II to 100,000 max.; begin Level III @ 100,000 sq. ft. Additionally, lower the height threshold to 75'-100' ft. for Level II.

We need more control over the rapid change that is engulfing Asheville. The basic character of our town is in jeopardy with the introduction of so many large scale projects.

So that the public can express concerns with the permitting

Level II projects are already close to approval at the time the city council becomes involved. If the project is for downtown the citizens of Asheville want to know about it earlier and want a chance to voice their opinions before it is approved. All downtown projects over 25000 square feet should require approval by City council for a go ahead before final plans are worked out with the Planning and Zoning commission.

Anything over 3 stories should be reviewed.

You are catering to big business & making it more expensive to live down town.

I would like to see the height limits lowered so the council can review any buildings over 8 stories, rather than the 14 currently listed.

new structures need to meet unique architectural esthetics of Asheville.

Look at the ugly buildings that have come to town due to no oversight.

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QUESTION 2: Do you think the current boundary for Conditional Zoning Review (Central Business District) should remain the same, or be changed?

Remain the same                             32.7%

It should be adjusted                         55.1%

Uncertain                                         12.2%

If you think it should be adjusted, please explain hot / to where. Be specific.

28 answered

22 skipped

Specific answers to this question:

Expanded out to incorporate all of S Charlotte St, Asheland Ave and Southside Ave.

I think all large projects need fuller review and more opportunity for public input. That being said I think large buildings city wide need a more intense review process.

It's difficult to read the map but in 2009 Asheville was a different place, developmentally speaking. The South Slope should be included and perhaps the RAD as both are ripe for large developments that will impact our community.

Expansion of commercial development north of I-240 must be nipped in the bud. Expansion of commercial development in the South Slope must be carefully reviewed.

cover all downtown

It is hard to decipher where the boundaries are with the provided map to knowledgably answer.

include south slope and Merrimon/Charlotte Street corridor north of 240.

Include South Slope and Charlotte/Merrimon north of I-240

I think the CBD should be extended all the way to Mission hospitol

Charlotte Street to the East, I-240 to the North, Clingman to the West and Short Cox to the South

Expand CZ to CUP boundaries

It should be expanded to include the CUP area.

Include South Slope for sure. Charlotte Street (Ingles lot) and Merrimon should be included as well.

Conditional Zoning process should apply to all Level III project both within and outside TDC.

The CBD needs to be expanded and the "downtown" needs to grow outwards

The entire area should be subject to the same, more stringent review guidelines.

It appears that the CBD is expanding.

I don't think the question matches up with the map. Conditional zoning is in the Traditional Downtown Core only.

I don't think the question matches up with the map. Conditional zoning is in the Traditional Downtown Core only.

I don't think the question matches up with the map. Conditional zoning is in the Traditional Downtown Core only.

I think it should be enlarged, but I can't read the tiny street names on your map so I can't be more specific.

Include the entire Downtown Central Business District.

CZ should include the entire TDC and the CUP Review area soul be expanded to include those residential neighborhoods that directly abut the CBD. As downtown has grown their is a need to expand the boundaries of what has been traditionally been the Central Business District.

Adjustment is needed to include the West Patton change caused by the I-26 Route, the south slope modification and other new expansions.

There is not enough information for me to figure this out. My major complaint is that projects are very far along before the public becomes aware of them. Posting the info on the city website is not sufficient. both the Citizen-Times and Mountain Express should have a weekly column on what projects are being considered and an updated status each week.

Should be adjusted to match CUP.

to include South Slope and Chicken Hill

New projects need to fit in to the aesthetic "vibe" of Asheville, otherwise we will become like just any other homogenized looking city. None of the recently built buildings add to the aesthetics of downtown Asheville. Asheville has the 2nd largest collection of art deco buildings in the south east. Miami is #1. That distinction of unique architecture must be preserved and enhanced upon. It is our strength.

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QUESTION 3: Do you think the boundary for the Conditional Use Permit Review (Traditional Downtown Core) should remain the same or be changed?

Remain the same                                             38.3%

It should be adjusted                                        38.3%

Uncertain                                                         23.4%

If you think it should be adjusted, please explain how / to where. Be specific.

20 answered

30 slipped this question

Specific answers to this question:

There could be benefits to expanding the traditional downtown core boundaries

expanded

The South Slope should be included and perhaps the RAD as both are ripe for large developments that will impact our community. These developments should be reviewed by City Council.

Expansion of commercial development north of I-240 must be nipped in the bud. Adequate attention must be paid to assuring that PARKING is provided for ANY development, anywhere.

cover all downtown

It is hard to decipher where the boundaries are with the provided map to knowledgably answer.

Historical core is very different for the south slope. South slope needs seperate guidelines. The CBD review is fine.

All should be CZ process, drop CUP from process. Benefitcial for Council to be able to discuss project with developer and general public before hearing. Leads to better projects and cooperation

The current CUP boundary area should be incorporated into the CZ review area. A new CUP area should be created to reflect the expansion of the Downtown business area..

Charlotte Street Corridor and Merrimon should be included as well. There is a threat of commercial encroachment in those areas.

Eliminate for Level III and replace with Conditional Zoning process.

Do we have a core? It looks more like a hodge podge.

I don't think the question matches up with the map. The entire CBD should be Conditional Zoning. This allows for the developer to have equal opportunity to discuss the project with City Council member. The seven standards are at best arbitrary and are open to interpretation. One of the unintended consequences of Level III project review is that developers will only build to the maximum size allowed in Level II. The TRC, Design Review and Planning & Zoning Commission criteria are fair and rational.

I don't think the question matches up with the map. The entire CBD should be Conditional Zoning. This allows for the developer to have equal opportunity to discuss the project with City Council member. The seven standards are at best arbitrary and are open to interpretation. One of the unintended consequences of Level III project review is that developers will only build to the maximum size allowed in Level II. The TRC, Design Review and Planning & Zoning Commission criteria are fair and rational.

I don't think the question matches up with the map. The entire CBD should be Conditional Zoning. This allows for the developer to have equal opportunity to discuss the project with City Council members. The seven standards are at best arbitrary and are open to interpretation. One of the unintended consequences of Level III project review is that developers will only build to the maximum size allowed in Level II. The TRC, Design Review and Planning & Zoning Commission criteria are fair and rational.

It should shrink in repsonse to the increase in the CZR increase.

Use Conditional Zoning Review for all Downtown Central Business District Projects.

CZ should include the entire TDC and the CUP Review area soul be expanded to include those residential neighborhoods that directly abut the CBD. As downtown has grown their is a need to expand the boundaries of what has been traditionally been the Central Business District.

Same comments as above. Projects are very far along before the public becomes aware. A weekly column or newsletter would help. Citizens could opt in to receive weekly updates.

The area subject to review should be expanded a few blocks to the other side of I-240.

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QUESTION 4: Currently downtown hotel proposals are reviewed the same way as other Level II and Level III projects. Should hotels have a different review process?

Yes                                         54.2%

No                                          39.6%

I don’t know                              6.3%

If yes, how should they be reviewed:

30 respondents answered

20 respondents skipped this part

Specific answers to this question:

Unsure, but we should consider whether more hotels will bring the type of jobs we need in this area

It is unclear from info if there is traffic flow & parking considerations included in reviews. At what point is the area over saturated for hotel specific use?

a moratorium/ ban on all new hotel development.

Impact of tourism on our downtown has been a mixed blessing. It is now difficult for locals to come downtown. I fear that with the increase in tourism, our downtown will attract more and more national chain businesses and lose its local feel and flavor. I think hotel proposals should be reviewed with a market analysis of occupancy rates.

High traffic/high parking demand projects, such as hotels, need special review to assure that traffic, parking, pedestrian access issues are addresses. Projects should OVER COMPENSATE for their impact by contributing to community solutions, not just covering their own footprint and impact.

More public input. Residents need a greater voice in the direction of development in our central city.

anything over 2 stories review. new parking provided for all guests at full occupancy

City Council and should be following the Vision set by city council and not by private outside interests just wanted to profit on the city.

If jobs are directly created with development projects like hotels, developers need to commit to living wage jobs similar to Mr. McKibbon. Paying minimum waage is unacceptable regardless of how their proforma reads.

not just impact on tourists - impact on locals important - parking should be sufficient for all staff, guests and 100% occupancy and visitors for events and functions

Perhaps in relation to the level of progress on issues such as infrastructure, affordable housing, etc.

Council wants to review them by type of use and so be it.

I support a full moratorium on new hotel proposals for a minimum of five years. We need housing, not more tourist playgrounds.

Square footage and height should drive process classification, not use.

skyline development and obstruction of view should be considered

All have the review process of Level III. Further restricting hotel development is not needed. There are less hotels in Asheville than in earlier.days. It makes sense to put high-desnisty projects in current high density areas.

We need to curb the "big box" hotel chains encroaching to our quaint downtown. We will lose all the charm that has been cultivated over many years (which is a big tourist draw). Design standards, scale, and community impact must be carefully reviewed.

All treated as Level III

There should be different requirements that address the specific issues of hotel use, parking, greater pedestrian use, street level activity, etc.

I'm not clear on the review process. I am clear that the city is selling its views and erecting structures that take away from the charm of the town.

They should all be considered Level III projects and be reviewed by Council.

They should all be level III projects.

Not specific to hotels but under the proposed change I list they would likely fall under more review to the size of the project.

More Council involvement and public input.

Impact on the landscape of the city - tall buildings block out light. Hotels create more tourists downtown with more cars - developments should be similar to the Aloft with Hotel and Public spaces available.

If eventuallly residents cant get dinner reservations downtown because there are thousands of overnight guests, Asheville becomes a town designed for tourists and it loses its greatness.

The should be reviewed by City Council and need and asethtics should be factors.

No more hotels you are ruining downtown environment . We want downtown to be small & for locals .

Hotels require additional infrastructure considerations that an office or residential building do not. I would like to see a hotel-specific review process in place so we don't end up with entire areas of the city that are nothing but hotels and low-wage retail jobs.

Yes, they should compliment the unique architecture.....like the Grand Bohemian does for Biltmore Village.

What additional methods of notification would you prefer?

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QUESTION 5: What additional methods of notification would you prefer?

Web portal                                                                                                         57.4%

Social media                                                                                                      52.3%

Neighborhood meeting notification                                                                        55.3%

List serve                                                                                                           40.4%

Signs posted on the project site at each stage of approval                                      57.4%

Other                                                                                                                  12.8%