Asheville – The third time wasn’t the charm of a proposed 72-unit condominium development for West Asheville and it wasn’t the fourth – the project failed to gain approval from the city’s planning and zoning commission on September 21.
The meeting was the project’s fourth visit to the Board of Directors and the penultimate hurdle for the conditional zoning of the 9.12-acre property off Patton Street on Woodland Drive.
The vote of approval for the project resulted in a 2-2 tie, with President Joe Archibald and Commissioner Robert Hooke voting against. A tie results in failure, and without the council passing a motion for approval or rejection, the project will move to the city council on October 11 without a recommendation. There are seven members of the committee but there were only four, which represents a quorum.
The city council will have the final say in approving the project.
Archibald said that while more housing is badly needed, there are a lot of variables stacked against the proposed project.
“This is probably, in the last five years, one of the most difficult things I’ve had,” he said.
“We need more density, we need construction work, we need more affordable housing…I’m not sure this piece of land is the right place for that. I’ll leave it at that.”
Commissioner Geoffrey Barton said he also wrestled with the project and found that the objections of nearby residents were “highlight” arguments against its approval. But in the end, he couldn’t vote against any chance of bringing more housing to Asheville.
“It’s, frankly, not an exciting proposition, but 72 housing units in a really good location, if we’re not building within our city limits, we’re just outsourcing our housing problem,” Barton said. “For me, while it’s really challenging, I think we need to accept that there are no perfect development sites anymore, and this is a development that provides homes for 72 families that need it most.”
The cottage development, called “Woodland Development” per the site plans, proposes 72 housing units across 10 clusters of two-storey homes nestled among a cluster of corporate and light industrial properties and an extension of single-family neighborhoods south of the Deaverview Apartments.
The site itself is on a plot described by the city’s master planner, Will Palmquist, as a “mostly sloping meadow”, with only one direction in the extension of Woodland Drive.
The project first reached committee in July, and the initial vote on conditional zoning was postponed after the presentation left most of the commissioners unsatisfied.
At the August 3 meeting, the committee voted against approving the project by 6-1 votes.
Rather than go to City Council with a failed application, the applicant, represented by attorney Derek Allen with Allen, Stahl and Kilburn, chose to return to the commission, which it did twice in September, in part because The committee failed to meet the quorum at its September 7th meeting.
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Its initial visits brought in many neighbors to speak at the public hearing, many of whom expressed concerns about disrupting green spaces for the community and personality, adding traffic on already narrow roads, including a narrow junction at the confluence of Old Haywood Road and Woodland Drive, and threatening walkability. and portability of the bike.
Two residents were there to oppose the project with many of the same concerns on September 21.
Kathy Nichols, who lives in the neighborhood surrounding the proposed site, said the project “doesn’t fit the character and the area.”
She said, “I’m not necessarily representative of everyone, but I can be. Our neighborhood, basically, is in agreement that we’re against this project. We feel it’s the equivalent of putting an entire small town in the middle of our homes and our neighborhood.”
Since it was first proposed, the applicant has made several changes, including adding four affordable units to the project, or 5% of the total units, which will be allocated at reasonable rates at or below 80% average income for the district. Two of these units will accept housing choice vouchers.
The proposed townhomes are a mixture of two and three bedroom rental units.
While most of the commissioners agreed with the move, they were also concerned that it was not “aggressive” enough, in the words of Commissioner Brenton Faircloth.
“That’s cool,” he said, “but we need a lot more of that. More aggressive…I might qualify for some affordable housing here, and a lot of people in this room might do.”
Archibald said he would have been happier with something closer to 10% affordable housing rather than 5%, although he was happy it would be single-family housing rather than studio or one-bedroom apartments.
A total of 177 parking spaces are proposed, 72 of which will be located in a one-car garage per unit, and another 72 in driveways, with the remainder of the parking spaces centrally located on the property.
In response to concerns about the difficulty of entry into the proposed development, the applicant suggested facilitating shared access to the plot to the south, which might allow an additional access point to the site, although this would depend on the adjacent parcel. Final redevelopment for residential use.
Bicycle signs to promote a shared path have also been added to site plans, as well as more green space, including a playground, community area, and gravel walking path.
The project was also recently introduced at the September 7 meeting, and the applicant suggested subdividing the site into individual plots for each townhouse so that it would serve as a single-family development, not a multi-family development, which Allen said has always been the goal.
Allen repeatedly emphasized the changes made in response to residents and commissioners’ concerns, and the unique nature of the project, which he said represented a “new type of housing” in the city. He is working to transform the surrounding area from a light industrial plot of land into detached single-family homes, he said, filling a much needed market.
“We try to do exactly what the city tells us to do,” Allen said. “And which is to develop these spots, to develop them with unique and diverse housing, to develop them at a higher density, and to do what the city requires, which is to provide more affordable housing for its residents.”
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Also discussed at the September 21 meeting, and moving forward to the City Council by a unanimous vote in its favour, is to add 54 units to a large affordable housing complex in South Asheville. The project will double the size of Laurel Woods apartments at 650 Caribou Road and rehabilitate existing units.
Currently, a 51-unit, two-story, multi-family development is located on a 14.73-acre site off Hendersonville Road.
The proposed expansion will bring a new three-storey building with 54 large housing units, all considered affordable for a minimum of 30 years with a mix of 80%, 60% and 40% median income.
Asheville lists 80% AMI as $42,100 for a family of one, and up to $48,100 for a family of two. At 30% of AMI, a one-person household is listed at $15,800 and $18,050 for two.
Twelve units will accept housing choice vouchers.
In his initial proposal, the height of the building gave the commissioners and surrounding residents pause.
Initially, a 40-foot barrier between the building and neighboring houses was proposed at the imperial court. Many residents said this was not enough, and feared that the new building would rise above their homes, alter the character of the street and threaten foliage and wildlife.
At the September 7 meeting, the applicants from the American volunteers, who will develop, own and manage the project, returned with a new proposal. In the new site plan, the project has been redesigned to relocate the proposed new building within the property and away from the neighboring properties.
Rather than sitting at the corner of Caribou Road and the houses along the Imperial Court, the proposed building inverted spaces with the car park, relocating them to a place deeper within the central building.
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During public comment, Shiloh Community Association Liaison Officer Norma Bynes expressed some of the reservations the neighborhood maintains, which include increases in traffic, pressure on existing infrastructure, lack of walking paths, and making sure units are truly affordable.
Many of her concerns were addressed by representatives of the American volunteers, including the assertion that the units were required to be affordable and no problems were found by the district’s sanitation or water resources.
The applicant faces a tight deadline, as his city’s application for a $1.5 million housing trust fund runs parallel to the conditional zoning process.
The loan application was recommended unanimously for approval by the city’s Housing and Community Development Commission on September 20, and will be voted on along with the partition request at the city council meeting on September 27.
Sarah Honosky is the city government reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. news tips? Email [email protected] or send a message on Twitter at @slhonosky.