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Planning & Zoning Approves 767 NHC Development Proposal

03/24/2024 8:37 AM | Christina Maggi (Administrator)

Almost 400 residents attended the March 20 special meeting of the City of Asheville's Planning and Zoning Commission scheduled to review the proposal for the housing development at 767 New Haw Creek Road. With the public comment portion of the meeting limited to one hour, the commissioners heard from just 17 of the more than 200 attendees who requested the opportunity to speak. 

The four-hour-long meeting ended with a narrow recommendation of approval to rezone the property, expanding the number of homes allowed from a maximum of 49 to 95 single-family homes and townhomes. The Asheville City Council will have the final say on whether the rezoning request is approved during a vote scheduled for their April 9 meeting. 

The commissioners heard from city planning staff on their review of the project, the developer Kevin Jackson, and citizens both in favor and opposed to the rezoning request.

Haw Creek residents opposed to the rezoning request cited many concerns about the project, including pedestrian safety, the lack of affordability housing in the development, increased traffic, the ability to evacuate the valley in the event of a fire or other emergency, impact to wildlife living on the site, potential flooding due to stormwater runoff, and loss of tree canopy. Approximately 53 percent of the property is covered with mature tree canopy, with the most densely wooded area on the east side. 

Haw Creek Community Association President Chris Pelly spoke on behalf of the neighborhood organization, recognizing the need for more housing in Asheville but urged the commissioners to follow the guidance of the city's 2018 comprehensive plan for smart growth. He shared the neighborhood’s concern that the rezoning proposal violates the spirit and intent of the comprehensive plan in several key areas. 

"We did not come here to say no to this development. We recognize housing of all types is needed in all areas of the city, including Haw Creek," Pelly said. "We are prepared to do our part." 

Many of the speakers, including Buncombe County Planning Board Member John Noor, implored the commissioners to delay the vote to allow for continued discussions with the developer on areas for compromise, including the possibility of a reduction to the number of homes constructed to allow for preservation of a significant portion of the wooded area.

"The Haw Creek community is prepared to compromise and will not oppose a rezoning if Mr. Jackson also compromises. To date, this has not happened," he said. "For this reason, we respectfully request Planning and Zoning members oppose the conditional zoning request." 

After hours of discussion and deliberation, the commission voted 4-3 to approve the project. The rezoning request now goes to the City Council for the final vote. 

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