Planning and Zoning Commission Moves Forward with Urban Plans – The Blue Banner


Katie bloomer


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Photographed by Katie Bloomer.
City staff aims to improve the pedestrian potential and quality of life of the neighborhoods through their urbanization plan.

The Asheville Planning and Zoning Commission voted on October 6 to move forward with the second phase of the city’s urban plan.

The Urban Centers initiative aims to expand the city’s urban corridors and includes the transition of the area along South Tunnel Road, including the Asheville Mall, to dense urbanization. This would mean fewer single-story stand-alone buildings in large empty parking lots and more multi-story buildings combining both commercial and residential spaces.

“They take care of the developers and ignore the concerns of the townspeople,” said Eric Fisher, a local resident.

City planner Vaidila Satvika said city staff are working intensely with the Coalition for Asheville Neighborhoods to resolve any local issues.

“We have their support,” he said. “Working with them, we reduced the heights of the buildings to recognize their concern with shadows and views. It was probably our biggest change that we have made with them “

Fisher said he was concerned about a number of environmental issues, including the amount of erosion and sediment being dumped into the city’s waterways. His main argument against urbanization centered on preserving the rich and unique culture of Asheville.

“The city is already overdeveloped and is losing the natural environment which is an important part of the city’s appeal,” he said. “They betray their citizens and continue to destroy the beauty of the city. “

Charlotte Street Neighbors rep Bill Murphy shared similar concerns when discussing the threat of development in his neighborhood.

“It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Asheville,” he said. “Nobody wants to see this go away.”

Prior to withdrawing their conditional zoning proposal on September 17, RCG Development Group and landowner Hume Killian planned to demolish 12 historic homes on Charlotte Street in the nationally registered Chestnut Hills Historic District. Murphy said RCG and the Killians refused to sit down and speak with local residents and neighborhood associations.

“Now, I don’t want to see a five-story apartment building there, but I think the neighborhood would be willing to negotiate if people sit down and work with us,” Murphy said.

At the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County, Preservation Director Erica LeClaire said development and historic preservation often end up clashing.

“I think urbanization can be done in a thoughtful way that benefits the community,” she said. “Infill construction and adaptive reuse are really interesting preservation tools that can encourage development and density as well. “

LeClaire and his colleagues at PSABC engage with local communities and residents to preserve historic neighborhoods like Chestnut Hills. Often acting as a mediator between local communities, developers, and government, PSABC focuses on development issues that will impact the city’s historic resources.

“We’re really trying to take inspiration from the community itself,” said LeClaire. “Our focus will always be to focus on the historic resource, but how the community wants to deal with it is also a very big part of that, as it doesn’t make sense to keep the community completely out of the way. when it is supposed to be. a space for the community.

At the PZC meeting, neither city staff nor private developers presented plans to demolish existing structures, but Murphy said preservation is only half the bigger issue.

“It’s both a question of preservation and zoning, which are critical aspects of this city. That’s what attracts people here, ”he said. “They come here for a different experience, and if we just become another cookie-cutter community, we’re going to lose that.”

PZC rejects amendment allowing drive-thru services

As an advisory board to the city council, the PZC reviews a number of issues regarding local zoning and development, including proposed changes to current zoning laws and requests for future development plans.

A private plaintiff, Bear Creek Holdings, owner of the property at the intersection of Brevard Road and South Bear Creek, has asked the PZC to change an order prohibiting driving on his property.

The PZC rejected their request.

Shannon Tuch, a senior planner in the city’s Town Planning and Planning Department, submitted the request and did not recommend its approval.

In his presentation, Tuch cited inconsistencies between the proposal and the city’s overall urban plan, such as issues surrounding carbon emissions and walkability. She suggested that the applicant provide a site plan that minimizes vehicle lanes and queues, and minimizes conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists.

Damie Sesay, attorney and representative for Bear Creek Holdings, said the property’s adjacent interstate location and current lack of walkways meant there was little potential for pedestrian conflicts and emissions from carbon in the region would see no real change.

“We are now in a post-pandemic world. Very few people are ready to make this human contact, to enter buildings, ”she said. “Frankly, this part behind the wheel in this environment is extremely important, and our potential licensees demand it. “

PZC members voted unanimously to reject the amendment request.

“We made what we think was a reasonable request, and we thought it was unfortunate that the Planning and Zoning Commission did not approve this request,” Sesay said.

At the close, Commission President Joe Archibald suggested candidates come back with a sitemap addressing the issues.

Sesay said she didn’t know what her client was planning to do in the future.

PZC approves two new buildings municipal micro-apartments and Moxy Hotel

Private developers have proposed two separate items for ministerial review or technical review – which allowed applicants to demonstrate the ability of their project to comply with city technical standards.

PZC members approved both project proposals.

Planners Tuch and Sasha Vrtunski presented each proposal, and representatives provided comments and answered questions on behalf of developers and owners.

One project involved the development of a new residential building, which would be built on the empty parking lot located at 217 Hilliard Avenue. The building would share the land with a historic house, which the developers would not touch.

Sitting on less than a quarter of an acre, the building would be five stories and house 80 units. Each of these “micro-units” would measure between 180 and 250 square feet, and each floor would offer a shared laundry room, kitchen, living room, and storage space.

The second project involved the development of a hotel on the southwest corner of Aston Street and Biltmore Avenue, adjacent to another hotel and overlapping a parking garage.

The Moxy Hotel, a brand of Marriott, would measure eight floors and contain 115 hotel rooms. The site plan included a cafe on the ground floor and a restaurant on the top floor with open terraces. It would be linked to the existing Aloft hotel by shared amenity areas.

Buck Lindsay, architect of the project developer, said the project has been well received on all fronts and applauded for its novelty and suitability within the city.

The PZC members approved both project proposals, provided they meet the outstanding technical conditions described by the Technical Review Committee.

“The decisions were consistent with what the staff recommended, so I feel good about it,” Tuch said.

Due to COVID, the PZC held the meeting virtually, allowing the public to engage by phone or watch through the city’s YouTube channel or the Engagement Center.

The commission holds annual elections at its October meeting, and this year it elected Joe Archibald as chairman and Kimberley Levi as vice-chairman.

The PZC consists of seven members: five city residents and two from the extraterritorial zone, appointed respectively by Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Commissioners.

The committee will meet again on November 3.


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