At a rally held on Saturday, June 25 at Beaver Lake, a group of Lakeview Park residents announced that the developer of the 196-unit Cornerstone project on the ridgeline of Elk Mountain had backed out of the deal.
The group’s attorney, Derek Allen of Ward and Smith, was notified on Friday evening by Woodfin officials that Lake Mary, Florida-based Asheville Builders, LLC had withdrawn its zoning application for the project. Though all access to the 114-acre site runs through Asheville streets, the property itself was annexed into Woodfin in 2010 at the owner’s request. At that time, the land was zoned as Mountain Village, a classification that allows mixed-use development at a maximum density of 17 units per acre.
With the imminent threat of development off the table, said Tom Mock, a member of Citizens for Responsible Land Use, the 150-member group will turn its attention to longer-term protection or conservation of the land. “This land is a regional resource,” Mock commented. “You can see that mountain from any point north of downtown Asheville.” People move to this area for its beauty, he continued, making protection of the prominent ridgeline an aesthetic as well as an environmental priority. At this point, Mock said, “We are in the early stages of trying to figure out what the options are for protecting the mountain.”
In response to the Cornerstone proposal, an online petition opposing the development drew over 1,000 signatures. At a meeting of the Woodfin Planning & Zoning Board on April 4, Lakeview Park residents enumerated a long list of concerns about the project: increased traffic on narrow roads, erosion, stormwater management, the danger of landslides, impact on wildlife and emergency access, among others. Though the average grade of the site is over 50 percent, steep slope development regulations did not apply to since Woodin, unlike Buncombe County or the city of Asheville, has no ordinances related to construction on steep slopes.
According to Mock, the developer withdrew the proposal in response to public opposition to the project.