The Buncombe County Board of Adjustment unanimously approved conditional use permits for a 232-unit apartment complex in East Asheville and a 28,000 square foot expansion for Wicked Weed Brewing’s Candler production facility during its meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 11.
Mountain isn’t big enough
A proposed 232-unit apartment complex located off Piney Mountain Drive, in the Chunns Cove area of East Asheville, triggered a conditional use permit due to its building height request. The lot is zoned R-2, which allows for a maximum height of 32 feet, but the project requested the height be extended to 62 feet.
The developer noted that they would be building on 10 of 31 acres available and using a lower density than allowed by zoning. R-2 permits a density of 12 units per acre while the project calls for about 7.4 units per acre.
Matt Sprouse, an Asheville-based landscape architect said, “The whole purpose of the concept is to cluster buildings toward the bottom. It’s the flattest part. It’s smart and sensitive development.”
He also noted plans give the project two open areas for a dog park, pool, workout facility and other amenities. “We’ve got wonderful trails that ramble up the mountain we want to preserve. Almost 70 percent of this property is being preserved, which is unique and why we are asking for the conditional use permit.”
However, a group of about five people attended the meeting to voice concerns about the proposed project. Gideon Levenbach, an owner of a condo in nearby Pine Cliff, cited traffic increases and environmental disturbance as main concerns against the project. “Piney Mountain Drive is narrow. … The county should require a left turn lane, that way when we want to get in we are not held up by excessive traffic.”
Meantime, Anne Serpa, a nearby resident, echoed the same issues while bringing up her fear of an increase in crime. “What kind of rent are they charging? Right now crime is low and we are very happy about that. Crime is a big issue with me,” she stated.
Since the proposed project is off a city road and meets a size threshold of over 100 units, the city will require a traffic study.
To that end, board Chair George Lycan explained while traffic is a valid concern, “State regulations and ordinances tells us where our purview starts and stops.” However, he urged those concerned about traffic to get involved. “It helps. You at least find out what is going on and voices of community are taken into consideration.”
In regard to rent costs, the developer noted the apartments would not be for low income tenants and would likely be comparable to what condo owners could charge for their units.
The board then unanimously approved the conditional use permit. The project has its initial emergency access, stormwater and erosion plans approved, but is still subject to the traffic study by the city.
You can view the project’s footprint here.
Concerns about traffic, increased crime and loss of trees are common, as the board heard similar complaints when it last approved a large housing project, a 224-unit apartment, in August, 2016.
Growing like a weed
Wicked Weed Brewing received unanimous approval for expansion of its production facility in Candler. The 28,684 square foot addition called for a conditional use permit because it will bring the brewery’s total footprint to more than 50,000 square feet.
Mitchel Sorin, on behalf of Wicked Weed Brewing, pointed out, “The height of new facility is less than the existing building.” He also noted that New Belgium’s nearby production facility spans more than 100,000 square feet and his client’s expansion would be in the character of the industrial area.
Nobody spoke against the project and the board unanimously approved the expansion. You can see its plans here.
Other agenda items
The board of adjustment’s first agenda item, a height variance for an unaddressed property off Ebby Ridge in South Asheville, had its application withdrawn.
The board also approved the following items:
- A buffer landscape variance for Air Vent Exterior located at 6 Holly Acres Court in South Asheville.
- A variance for a rear yard setback for a residential home located at 34 Driftstone Circle in Arden.
- A minimum lot size variance for a residential parcel located at 68 Walters Road in Swannanoa.
The Board of Adjustment’s next meeting is set for Feb. 8.
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