During its meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 10, the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment approved a conditional use permit for a 224-unit apartment complex. The 18.85-acre project, called Blue Ridge Crossing, is located near the intersection of Monticello and Garrison Branch roads in Weaverville. The area is zoned Employment District and the conditional use permit was triggered because eight buildings are allowed in that designation, and Blue Ridge Crossing will have nine buildings. The complex will also include a clubhouse, dog park, walking trail and parking garages.
About 30 people, most of them nearby residents, attended the meeting. Several residents voiced concerns about the loss of trees, increased noise and traffic, and potential safety issues associated with the potential residents.
John Gray, owner of a home adjoining the development, wants a fence and two rows of coniferous trees between his property and Blue Ridge Crossing. “My property comes closest to the walking trail. It will reduce the potential for lawsuits, accidents and law enforcement involvement. It will also decrease the sounds and sights coming from the apartment complex,” said Gray.
Gray also said there was insufficient signage to inform nearby residents of the meeting, with a number of people in attendance responding, “Agreed.”
To that, Chair George Lycan said, “I don’t know how exactly we get this out. When you see a ‘Z’ on a white a sign it means something is happening there and you should call in, open your mail. I don’t know how else we can… that is the way it goes.”
Brian Bach, a nearby resident, said he was concerned the apartment complex would include subsidized housing.
Scott Austin, the developer of Blue Ridge Crossing, responded that the complex will be luxury housing with no affordable or subsidized housing, noting that rents will range from $890 to over $1,500 a month.
Austin also explained that his company is open to adding vegetative buffers. They have a track record of keeping as many trees intact as feasible, he said. “Typically with our developments we don’t want people migrating off our property or people migrating onto our property. We are going to leave as many trees as we can. It makes sense for us to have as much of a buffer as possible,” he said.
Regarding a fence, Austin said he currently doesn’t have plans for a fence. “We’re not adverse to it, but as we see what trees we have to take down, then we will come back and look at a fence,” he said.
Most of the noise concerns brought up by nearby residents were tied to the trash compactors and a pump station. Mike Patterson, an Autumn Hills Drive resident, said his property is right next to where the trash compactor would be located and wanted potential noise pollution specifically addressed. “Without adding [language about noise] to the conditional use permit, we got promises that might not be met. Something in writing is better than a promise that won’t be held up,” he said.
Board member Keith Levi also stated he would be more comfortable having something in writing and that perhaps the board should revisit the conditional use permit next month when developers could come back with more information.
Austin responded, “I understand everyone’s fears and concerns, and to have something in writing is always better than a nebulous, ‘We’ll do it some other time.’ On other hand, it does cost us a considerable amount to push this 30 days down the road … We are going to work with the neighbors to come up with a solution in those areas,” he said.
After the board discussed altering the conditional use permit, Lycan said he wanted to vote, “Up or down, as is.”
The board approved the conditional use permit by a vote of 5-2, with Levi and Lloyd Freel voting against it.
Austin said he hopes to start construction early in 2017; the project will take about nine to 15 months to complete.
Warren Wilson College Expansion
The Board of Adjustment also heard a conditional use permit request from Warren Wilson College. The school wants to add a new building for additional classrooms on the site of a previous building that was demolished in 2011. The conditional use permit was triggered because the building will not meet parking requirements. However, representatives for Warren Wilson College noted that there is ample parking surrounding the building at various other locations on campus.
The board unanimously approved the conditional use permit. You can view the building’s footprint here.
The Board of Adjustment next meets Sept. 14.