by Sam Hieb
This morning the N.C. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case of Parks Hospitality Group vs. the City of Asheville over a proposed downtown hotel and parking deck that the City Council voted down three years ago:
The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and former Vice Mayor Jan Davis recommended approval of the hotel, citing the need to develop gateways into downtown.
PHG had sought a Conditional Use Permit, or CUP, a more complex route than requesting conditional zoning. The CUP requires a quasi-judicial hearing in which those wishing to speak for or against a project have to establish legal standing and be sworn in, and their testimony and other information offered during the hearing is regarded as evidence.
After the no vote, PHG took the matter to Buncombe County Superior Court in October 2017, where Judge William Coward sided with the developers.
The city tried to get the ruling overturned by the N.C. Court of Appeals, but Judge John Tyson ruled that PHG was not seeking a rezoning but a conditional use permit “to conduct a use that is expressly permitted” in the city’s Central Business District designation. Tyson’s ruling was affirmed by Judge Lucy Inman and Judge Phil Berger Jr.
It will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court in this case. Mind you the trend in downtowns these days–Greensboro is a case in point—is for cities offer to build and maintain parking decks to service hotels, with spaces reserved for the public. I don’t see such a deal here–in fact the hotel developer is offering up parking spaces to the public as part of the $4 million settlement package that includes—according to the Citizen-Times— $2 million for the city’s Affordable Housing fund and $1 million to the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina for the establishment of the Parks Family Fund, not to mention improvement to the sidewalks and utilities.
The court will render its decision in 4-6 months.