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Council’s Message: Don’t Bribe, Donate

Hotel construction approval process.

Council’s Message: Don’t Bribe, Donate

Asheville Approves New Hotel Construction in Biltmore Village

Asheville City Council recently gave the green light for the construction of a new hotel in Biltmore Village on Hendersonville Road. The planned 99-room hotel will boast a restaurant, retail space, and underground parking, adding to the city’s hospitality offerings. However, the project faced several challenges due to conflicting city ordinances, leading to a thorough review process.

Overlapping City Ordinances Pose Challenges

The development site found itself partially located in the floodplain protection area, the ‘All Hotels’ Hotel Overlay district, and the Biltmore Village Historical District. This meant that the project had to adhere to multiple sets of regulations, creating hurdles for the developers to navigate. The Urban Planner highlighted that the site was particularly tight, with the building almost occupying the entire block, leading to adjustments in setbacks, sidewalk widths, and other requirements.

Community Benefits Program Not Applicable for Project

Council members expressed concerns about the project not qualifying for the city’s community benefits program, which typically applies to Level II developments. This program allows developers to streamline the review process by committing to various community-oriented initiatives, such as contributions to affordable housing funds, green building features, and support for social causes. While the new hotel project did not fall under this category, the developer voluntarily offered a set of community benefits to enhance the project’s overall impact.

Debates Over Extending Community Benefits to Larger Projects

Councilwoman Sage Turner raised objections to the exclusion of larger projects from the community benefits program, emphasizing the need to extract more concessions from developers in exchange for zoning changes. Turner argued that developers should offer community benefits as a condition for zoning approval, reducing the likelihood of legal challenges in the future. However, legal counsel cautioned against overstepping legal boundaries and advised caution in including such provisions in zoning agreements.

Lack of Consensus on Including Community Benefits in Zoning Conditions

Despite Turner’s efforts to incorporate community benefits as part of the conditional zoning, the proposal failed to garner sufficient support among council members. The conditional zoning was ultimately approved with a 4-2 vote, with Turner and another council member casting opposing votes. The decision reflected the ongoing debate over the role of community benefits in zoning approvals and highlighted the complexities involved in balancing development interests with community needs.

Overall, the approval of the new hotel project in Biltmore Village underscores the challenges of reconciling diverse regulations and community expectations in urban development initiatives. While the project promises to bring economic benefits to the area, the debate surrounding community benefits serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts to promote equitable and sustainable growth in Asheville.


HERE Asheville
Author: HERE Asheville

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