Board of Adjustment gives go-ahead to 224-unit apartment complex, Warren Wilson College expansion

The Board of Adjustment hears concerns from nearby residents about Blue Ridge Crossing, a 224-unit apartment complex.
The Board of Adjustment hears concerns from nearby residents about Blue Ridge Crossing, a 224-unit apartment complex.

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.

The Board of Adjustment approved Blue Ridge Crossing by a vote of 5-2. The developer has vowed to work with neighbors about noise, privacy and other concerns.
The Board of Adjustment approved Blue Ridge Crossing by a vote of 5-2. The developer has vowed to work with neighbors about noise, privacy and other concerns.

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.

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About Dan Hesse
I grew up outside of Atlanta and moved to WNC in 2001 to attend Montreat College. After college, I worked at NewsRadio 570 WWNC as an anchor/reporter and covered Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners starting in 2004. During that time I also completed WCU's Master of Public Administration program. You can reach me at dhesse@mountainx.com.

15 thoughts on “Board of Adjustment gives go-ahead to 224-unit apartment complex, Warren Wilson College expansion

  1. HRH

    Huh? well then surely there is a BIG government affiliated program to rescue schools named after progressive presidents, right?

    WWC should call Bill Clinton at the Clinton Family Criminal Foundation for some relief. They’ve got billion$$$.

    • Able Allen

      I think you might be conflating Woodrow Wilson and Warren Harding, two different presidents with very different philosophies. Warren Wilson College is named after a Presbyterian Church activist and rural education advocate. This guy.

    • Your best friend

      Ah, I see my comment was deleted – let me summarize:

      1. College is in dire financial straits.
      2. Enrollment is down significantly. Year over year.
      3. Steve Solnick is cutting salaries. Benefits. Numerous other things across the campus because he cannot possibly manage anything akin to a college. Example: Warren Wilson College.
      4. Yet, he decides that he wants to build a brand spankin new building even though the college could shut down within 12-24 months for insolvency.
      5. Does this not register with any of you? Students? Faculty? Staff? The Board of the College? Is anyone paying attention?

        • Able Allen

          You’ll find if you comment in a respectful and responsible way, your comments will be a permanent part of the conversation. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Almost all viewpoints and criticisms (short of hate speech and personal insults) are welcome here- but we won’t allow comments that violate the terms and conditions of discussion (including impersonating someone else- yes, even in a possibly joking/mocking way) to stand. Thanks.

          • Able Allen

            To be clear: I do not know Mr. Summers any more than I know you, Mr. Peck. And you have both (along with many other frequent commenters) been known to push the limits of what is allowed here.

          • I understand it’s hard, Mr. Allen, to know which comments to delete.

            I see the comments linked to above are “a permanent part of the conversation.” I will strive to conform to that standard in future.

      • GnomeLife

        It registers with me. I am the parent of a WWC student. She started at WWC last year – when it wasn’t as apparent as it is now – the financial situation…..mold in dorms….yes, firing of good staff and now the hiring of third party companies to replace the human face of the school. WATCH OUT FOR THE FAFSA VERIFICATION PROCESS….the school uses a third party for this. ONE number difference on my daughter’s FAFSA and the “last minute verification” that we were selected to do…and it will cost her an ADDITIONAL $3,000 in student loans. We were not allowed to change the mistake on the verified FAFSA….two years into this school and she is already on the hook for over $15,000 in loans. She was given a scholarship…tuition, room/board and we were told that the student loan would be small….no media coverage on this school. NONE…and they have done away with transportation from the campus to Asheville. Freshmen with no cars????? Yeah, good luck with that.

        • Your Bestie

          All of these things are happening because the school is running out of money – enrollment is down AGAIN for the fourth year in a row under Solnick. Transfers and Freshman are barely above 200 this fall and the freshman retention rate is probably 50%. You know what that means? 200 transforms into 100 in twelve months. Over four years, that translates into less than 600 students. It used to be 900 under other presidents. This isn’t the fault of us, the faculty or the staff. It’s all because of Steve Solnick and his leadership. Let’s not forget that he’s had FOUR chief financial officers in four years. He’s on his THIRD enrollment VP. Now on his FOURTH VP of Alumni and Fundraising. What does that say to all of you? Other small schools are thriving. But not our WWC.

          • GnomeLife

            Made myself acquainted with MR. Solnick online. His profile is disturbing…full member of the Council on Foreign Relations? I don’t trust this, his relationship with the Harriman Institute in Russia…and his other NC College President Friend who is making millions as a president at a NC University. I have a file on this school now. Continue to research. You don’t get to put your hand in my (or my daughter’s) pocket and extract an additional $3,000+ like the fine financial aid folks at WWC did – and get away with it. It is a SHAME…because WWC is a fine small school and schools like WWC are necessary. But the “third party” providers that they now have – for FAFSA verification, tuition management and some service providers to the school (instead of the wonderful humans that used to have those jobs and were summarily FIRED over the past year or so….wonderful admissions counselor Jan Wolf comes to mind…she WAS to have been my daughter’s advisor…)….third party or privitized anything scares me – that is what WWC is doing – taking away the human element (thus getting rid of salary and benefits) ALL THE WHILE ABSOLVING THE SCHOOL OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR MISTAKES, like what happened to my daughter’s FAFSA verification….

            I fear that WWC may not be there in two more years when my daughter graduates! In fact, a financial aid person said – when I told her that I had the schools’ 2015 non-profit 990 forms and was concerned that the debt to asset ratio of the school was mighty narrow – that, “we’ll just sell off land, etc.” which shocked me. That was almost an open admission that the school is indeed in financial straits.

            Finally – where is the media coverage on all of this? WHY isn’t the Asheville Citizen and other area papers reporting ANY OF THIS? At least the discontinued bus route for the school.. I KNOW – you’ll say, “the media is bought off…” Perhaps so, but there has to be ONE GOOD INVESTIGATIVE journalist left in the Asheville area who is willing to do the right thing and report this story. It is a shame when kids and parents bust their behinds for 18 years to get to the point of a college education – that is by NO MEANS cheap – only to get the shaft from a failing school like WWC – and we all thought the school was storied…good reputation , etc….I will not let this rest. Not until someone speaks the truth. Thanks for you comments

          • Your Bestie

            Wait, wait, wait – someone from the FINANCIAL AID DEPARTMENT said “oh we’ll just sell off land” to deal with the financial problem? They’re aware of this and said it to a parent?

            The Board, including the new Chair Bill Christie, must be notified of this kind of statement. That is unbelievable. Someone is saying around the campus that Solnick is contemplating selling off school assets to deal with cash flow problems – that is a huge violation of trust within the WWC community. Will anyone do something about this guy? He’s never been a higher education administrator before and yet they hired him anyway? And look at what he’s done to the school.

    • Your best friend

      Oh, and your silly/hate-filled rant wasn’t funny or logical. Are you from the Cove? Montreat?

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