Controversial South Asheville project looks to pivot

OVERLOOK OVERLOAD? A developer is asking Buncombe County for permission to build a 98-home subdivision off Overlook Road in South Asheville. Many nearby residents rallied against a previous housing development due to concerns about traffic.
OVERLOOK OVERLOAD? A developer is asking Buncombe County for permission to build a 98-home subdivision off Overlook Road in South Asheville. Many nearby residents rallied against a previous housing development due to concerns about traffic. Map courtesy of Buncombe County

Concerns about traffic congestion are once again circling around a proposed development off Overlook Road in South Asheville. The developer, Paul Holst of Greensboro, previously pitched a 221-apartment, 30-townhome development called Overlook Apartments.

That original plan encountered resistance from South Asheville residents concerned about whether the existing road infrastructure could handle the increase in cars associated with a development of that size.  In June, Holst’s team asked the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment to delay a hearing on the project before ultimately scrapping the plans.

Holst is now looking to build a 98-home subdivision, named Overlook Point, on the same 25-acre footprint at 109 Overlook Road.

N.C. Department of Transportation data show that in 2014, Overlook Road had an annual average daily traffic of 9,000 cars, or nearly 3.3 million cars a year. Information from Asheville Police Department’s traffic incident report database shows Overlook Road had 23 accidents in 2016 and is up to 15 accidents this year through Aug. 24.

South Asheville resident Vijay Kapoor helped organize community members with concerns about the project the first go-round, and sent an email on Thursday, Aug. 24 alerting citizens of the new plans.

“Though it seems crazy to us, the county does not require a traffic study for this development (note that the city of Asheville would have). It is up to the N.C. Department of Transportation to decide whether a traffic and safety study should occur,” said Kapoor, via email, while imploring citizens to reach out the the NCDOT and District 3 County Commissioners Joe Belcher and Robert Pressley.

Kapoor also noted that plans appear to show most trees on the site would give way to homes. “One would expect severe stormwater runoff given the storms we’ve recently been experiencing. This would impact the properties downhill including Crowfields,” he said.

In the past year, a number of new housing developments have been approved. Community members, especially residents of South Asheville, have expressed concerns that development could overload infrastructure that is believed to be at, or near, capacity. For example:

You can view Overlook Point’s application here, and its site plan here.

Major subdivision requests are decided on by the Planning Board and do not need approval from the Board of Commissioners. Overlook Point is classified as a major subdivision and is set to appear before the Planning Board on Monday, Sept. 18.

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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.

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4 thoughts on “Controversial South Asheville project looks to pivot

  1. Jay Reese

    There is no need to spend money doing a traffic study since everyone that lives there already knows there is a problem with traffic. Much of which stems from drivers cutting through from Hendersonville Rd and Long Shoals. Eliminate the cut through traffic and the problem is solved even with the new development. The main issue with the last project is that it included apartments which the neighbors opposed due in large part to not wanting “apt dwellers” living in their fine neighborhood of “homeowners”. Now they are worried about the trees and stormwater runoff which is a valid concern that can be addressed but it seems to be just one more excuse

    • South Ashevillian

      Not sure where you’re getting your information, but perhaps you should actually speak with people who live along this corridor before you assume their thoughts. The main issue with the last project wasn’t that it involved apartments vs. homes, but rather that the road couldn’t handle that much more development. The concerns now – which existed in the other project as well – are that there’s not a traffic safety study or a stormwater study. The proposed entrance to the subdivision is on a blind curve and they will need to cut down 25 acres of trees on a hillside which slopes downward. In your professional opinion, is the entrance to the subdivision in the right place? Is it safe? Asking local governments to look at traffic safety and stormwater issues before they approve a project seems pretty reasonable to me.

      • Jay Reese

        First of all you need to reread my comments and focus on the words I use and you will see that half of your rebuttal was unnecessary.

        I was involved in some conversations over this issue and while I am no professional, I am interested in urban design and transportation. The conversations I had earlier with my neighbors reminded me of the stories people have shared online and in the podcasts I listen to. It seems Homeowners around the country are protective of their neighborhoods and usually oppose any change, especially those that involve apartments. Concerning the particulars of the project like entrances, drainage ect I assume those would be handled as the codes provide. If the codes are not to your liking you should address the County Commissioners to change them.

  2. luther blissett

    This project sums up every local political issue in 2017. You’ve got city/county disparities, the development of increasingly marginal parcels, a splash of NIMBYism towards apartments and low-cost housing, and the whole “south Asheville” thing.

    It raises the question of how far “local” extends in the sprawlier south: if it’s a short-cut for your commute, it counts as local even if you live a couple of miles away. And it also shows that developers are willing to recycle dull cookie-cutter McSubdivision plans from the Piedmont burbs, slap it on any parcel in the city’s hinterlands, then attempt to grade the land into submission.

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