North Carolina appeals court hears arguments in Asheville hotel lawsuit


The North Carolina Court of Appeals heard oral arguments last week in a lawsuit pitting an Asheville hotelier against the city of Asheville.

Shanauk Patel of PHG Asheville wants to build a new 8-story, 185-room Embassy Suites, complete with pool, rooftop bar and parking deck on Haywood Street. The location is the former Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department office building. The location is also right across Haywood Street from a Hyatt Place hotel that Patel’s company built a few years ago.

But Asheville City Council voted in January 2017 to deny Patel’s request for a conditional zoning permit for the Embassy Suites. Asheville City Council, in a quasi-judicial hearing, decided the hotel proposal did not meet six of seven required legal standards. Those standards involve issues such as compatibility with surroundings, the impact of surrounding property value and the impact on traffic

The Embassy Suites proposal came up for a vote at a time of heightened public concern about the impacts of increased tourism in Asheville, and in appealing Asheville City Council’s decision to Superior Court, the developer argued that City Council members had already made up their mind prior to the hearing.

Superior Court Judge William Coward ruled in PHG Asheville’s favor  and ordered the city to issue the condition use permit late last year. That’s when the city decided to appeal the Superior Court decision to the N.C. Court of Appeals.

The appeals court typically takes a couple of months to issue its decisions.