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Asheville council approves new hotel regulations

Asheville council approves new hotel regulations
Asheville City Council on Tuesday approved new hotel regulations. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

In a 6-1 vote on Tuesday night, Asheville City Council set new rules on how hotels get approved. It happened on the same day that the city's year and a half long moratorium on new hotels expired.

Under these new rules, Asheville City Council will no longer have to approve every new hotel if hotels can meet certain requirements.

A hotel first has to be allowed according to the new revised hotel overlay map. The revised map took out urban renewal properties, so new hotels wouldn't be built there.

The hotel also has to meet a public benefits requirement. It incentivizes hotels to do things like pay the living wage, offer affordable housing or pay to the city's reparations fund.

If hotels can meet those requirements, they can get approved by the joint design review committee. If hotels don't meet those criteria, then a hotel would have to go to city council for approval.

Council members said they want city staff to come back in a few months to demonstrate how this process works. They said this is a work in progress.

"We have made some really great strides here, and I do think that we will probably make some revisions," Sage Turner said.

City attorney Brad Branham said this new way of approving hotels actually gives the city more authority to make sure hotels follow through on their public benefits promises.

He said, if a hotel doesn't follow through, then the city can issue zoning violations, something they couldn't do before.

By approving these new hotel rules, city council also approved a first-of-its-kind reparations fund.

Todd Okolichany, the city's director of planning and urban design, said this hasn't happened in the state, and he thinks this could also be the first-of-its-kind in the country.