Asheville Builders, LLC, is planning a 196-unit condominium development atop the Elk Mountain Ridgeline, facing Asheville. Sherwood Heights, Inc. is the registered owner of the 113.99 acre plat, identified by PIN 9741-41-0532-00000, which has been annexed into the city of Woodfin. Access to the development, identified as “Cornerstone,” will be made through the Country Club community of Lake View Park, whose roads are maintained by the city of Asheville. The impending development has citizens concerned about traffic, population density, and the impact on the environment.
This past Monday, March 28, a handful of North Asheville residents received a letter from Jason Young, the Town Administrator of Woodfin. The letter, addressed to “property owners lying within 150 feet of subject property,” informs recipients of a hearing by the Planning and Zoning Board of Adjustment on a major subdivision located at 99999 Robinhood Road on April 4, 2016 at 6:30pm, and invites citizens to attend to make their thoughts and concerns known. The letter concludes that additional information about the proposal can be obtained from the Town Administrator during normal business hours.
The plan outlines a proposal for 184 multi-family units (35 feet in height), and 12 single-family residences to be built on land with an average slope of 48.81% and elevation of 2600-3000 feet. Each multi-family unit will consist of four stories; one story below grade and three above. The setback shown on the plans is 10 feet from existing owners’ property lines.
The builder has proposed access routes to the new development through the Country Club community of Lake View Park, increasing traffic through the neighborhood at the expense of Asheville City roads. Beaverbrook Road, which is privately owned by the four homeowners of Sherwood Heights East, will be extended to provide access to 40 units. Access to an additional 32 units will be made by extending Beaverbrook Court, which is maintained by the City of Woodfin. The remaining 124 units will be accessed from a single point off Robinhood Road, which is owned by the City of Asheville.
Upon receipt of the letter, one citizen, whose property is located in Asheville City limits, notified the Urban Planner of Asheville, Vaidila Satvika, of the impending development. Due to the major impact that a 196-unit development would have on Asheville City roads, Mr. Satvika showed concern that he had no knowledge of the project.
Buncombe County has enacted a “Steep Slope / High Elevation” ordinance that limits the maximum density for hillside developments to .115 units per acre for single family, and .75 units per acre for multi-family residential. In order to be considered “Steep Slope / High Elevation,” land must be above 2500 feet with a natural slope of 35% or greater. The Cornerstone proposal shows an elevation between 2600 and 3000 feet and identifies the average slope to be 48.81%, classifying it as “Steep Slope / High Elevation” according to Buncombe County. The proposed population density for the development is 1.7 units per acre. Although the City of Woodfin has no Steep Slope ordinance, according to the Buncombe County On Line Slope Calculation Tool located at www.mapwnc.org/slopetoolpost/, this land is subject to “Steep Slope / High Elevation” classification.
The environmental impact of the project is unclear since no such studies have been provided to the public. In addition to the obvious potential issues with run-off and soil erosion, the impact on wildlife is a major concern of the neighborhood. In particular, citizens are worried about the fate of the family of five beloved black bears and flock of thirteen turkeys that live on Elk Mountain and regularly patrol the neighborhood.
The builder has listed the zoning district of the parcel as “Urban Village,” which, according to the Asheville Code of Ordinances is intended for the following purpose; “The Urban Village District offers the unique opportunity to provide quality and long lasting retail, office and residential uses in an organized layout that encourages the full range of access by patrons and users, and offers innovative high quality design of structures, public amenities and pedestrian facilities.” The Cornerstone proposal shows no plans for retail or office space, and no future development of such amenities, factors which seem to disqualify the parcel from the “Urban Village” zoning district. It is unclear whether “Urban Village” is the current zoning or proposed zoning, as no zoning information has been able to be obtained by citizens in this short timeframe. Furthermore, no signs for re-zoning were posted within the vicinity of the land within the past year.
With only one week to prepare for a public hearing, citizens are scrambling to collect as much data and reach out to as many outlets as possible to have the decision postponed. If the upcoming hearing cannot be postponed by citizen and Asheville City Official efforts, all concerned individuals are encouraged to attend the public meeting Monday, April 4 at 6:30pm at the Woodfin Town Hall, 90 Elk Mountain Road.
Tammy Leino has been an Asheville citizen since 2004.