City of Asheville shares FAQ about hotel development revisions

Hotel FAQ image

Thanks to everyone who has participated in the Hotel Development Survey.  We appreciate your Input!  Here are the answers to many of the questions that were  raised in the survey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the city ban hotels permanently?

If someone does not like a particular land use or perceives a use to have negative impacts this does not mean the city can simply ban that land use in its entirety. A city needs to consider if that use poses a threat to public health, safety or general welfare before a total ban is considered. The impacts of the use should be identified and measured and steps should be taken to prevent or mitigate those impacts. Through zoning, the city has the authority to allow certain land uses in some areas while prohibiting them in other areas where they may be incompatible with other types of land uses. The city may also adopt regulations that mitigate any identified impacts.  

The Asheville City Council imposed a moratorium in order to study this issue and brought in the Urban Land Institute to assist with this process.  After studying the issue in detail and looking at the impacts of hotel development, they recommended, among other things, that the city better regulate hotel uses to address their impacts, but their report did not indicate any reasons to support a ban. 

Can the city extend the moratorium past September, 2020? 

Yes, but only under very limited circumstances. In the first place, the moratorium had to be based on a clearly documented need with a definite timeline, limited to what was needed to address the issues for imposing the moratorium.

cause to justify an extension, the additional time must directly correspond to what is needed to complete the initial work.

How do hotels get built?

A hotel development project is initiated by a private entity who must secure their own financing.  The city is not involved in this process and does not promote hotel development. 

How is the city involved in hotel development? 

The city becomes involved when a hotel developer wants to build a hotel and needs to obtain zoning, building or other necessary permits in order to do so.  The city establishes the requirements for hotels and the development approval process. The city is limited in what it can regulate based upon North Carolina state law. 

What is the purpose of the new hotel zoning regulations?

The purpose of the proposed new hotel zoning regulations are to address community concerns unique to the impacts associated with hotel uses and to limit hotel development to select locations through an overlay map.  The regulations establish landscape, design and other standards and will also require hotels to provide community benefits through a points based system.

What is the purpose of the hotel overlay map?

The city is not suggesting that more hotels should be built through the creation of the overlay.  The overlay is just one tool for the city to manage and control where hotel development may be considered into the future, well beyond the pandemic. The overlay allows for a more focused  examination of an area’s suitability for supporting the impacts of hotel development.

Will the proposed overlay map be changed before review by Asheville City Council?

The map was published as part of a public input process for survey purposes and was never intended to be the final proposal. Because public sentiment regarding hotel development is very mixed, the city cast a wide net with the initial map, in an attempt to get balanced feedback from all stakeholders. 

Based on the feedback the city has received from the survey, the map will be revised in the coming weeks and posted on the website along with the proposed text of the ordinance.  

How can the city ensure that a hotel will provide a public benefit?

While North Carolina state law does not permit a municipality from requiring anything specific from hotel developers, such as affordable housing or sustainability measures, there is some flexibility provided various options are provided.  

The city is proposing a points based system with incentive based options, so that some level of public benefit will be required, but the hotel developer will have choices.