A county board has cleared the way for a housing development that will bring 687 homes to property on Pond Road on the southwestern edge of Asheville.
The Farm at Pond Road, to comprise 575 apartments, 80 townhomes and 32 single-family homes, will be one of the largest residential projects in Buncombe County in recent years. It is to be built in two stages over the next few years.
The Buncombe County Board of Adjustment approved plans for the 83-acre site in Enka July 8. Members said the project is well designed and will have less impact on neighbors than many other uses allowed by the property’s “employment” zoning, such as a manufacturing plant.
“Fantastic project, great use of the land,” said board member Josh Holmes.
Neighbors’ reaction has been less enthusiastic, although only one spoke in direct opposition during the meeting, conducted online via Zoom.
“Pond Road is a small, narrow farming road,” Martha Reed told the board. “It was never intended for that kind of heavy traffic.” A nearby project will bring more than 200 housing units to the area, and the two developments together will create a strain on local schools, she said.
The property, located about half a mile north of Pond Road’s intersection with Sardis Road, is a former farm and in recent years has been used for a mulch business.
Nearby resident Phyllis Jamison said she worries about the size of buildings, glare and runoff.
“The proximity has been a big shock on our neighborhood,” she said. “It’s very hard to imagine the changes that’s going to be happening to our landscape as well as our everyday lives.”
But she noted that Greensboro-area developer Fall Line Development has made changes to decrease impacts on neighbors. She said some neighbors met with Fall Line head Brian Wise recently: “We were satisfied with the conversation and at this point we are trusting his word.”
Derek Allen, a local attorney representing Fall Line, said the company’s goal “is to preserve the contiguous green spaces to the extent possible … and provide a variety of residential options here in Buncombe County, which are sorely needed, in a way that is thoughtful and responsible.”
Wise said more than half of the property will remain as open space, and workers will plant trees to make the project less visible for neighbors.
Because a lot of the property is pastureland, “This is one of those rare developments in Buncombe County where actually postdevelopment we’re going to have more trees than we had predevelopment,” he said.
Fall Line will put a stoplight at the intersection of Pond and Sardis roads in connection with the project and modify the Brevard Road/Pond Road intersection to make it easier for vehicles to turn left onto Brevard Road.
Those changes will “leave the area in a better condition from a traffic and safety standpoint than it currently is,” said John Davenport, a traffic engineer hired by Fall Line.