County oversight erroneously puts contentious project before Board of Adjustment

A group of the 30 people wanting to speak against a proposed vacation rental complex in South Asheville are sworn in before a Board of Adjustment meeting. The project was neither approved or denied. During the hearing county staff realized the proposed use did not match the land's zoning designation and was not eligible to be heard by the board. Photo by Dan Hesse

An hour into the Board of Adjustment’s Wednesday, Oct. 12, meeting, some 30 people began speaking out against a proposed vacation rental in South Asheville at 28 Merrills Cove Road. While the fifth person to speak was outlining why the development should not be approved, the county’s zoning administrator, Debbie Truempy, announced that the agenda item should not have made its way to the Board of Adjustment.

“That is my mistake and I apologize to everyone involved,” said Truempy, while further clarifying the Board of Adjustment would not be able to approve the agenda item. “It should have never come before the board,” she stated.

At issue was the proposed development of a vacation rental complex that would feature upward of 10 luxury cabins. The owner of the property, Peter Anuar, said he was looking to start by building two cabins and see how much interest they generated. He said his family would also live on the property and run the business.

Before the project was considered a moot point, nearby residents spoke out against the plans, asserting that a commercial development would be in stark contrast to the area’s residential character. Concerns about traffic, loss of trees and fraternity parties were also cited as reasons the community did not want the project to move forward.

Ultimately, the intended use did not match the land’s zoning designation, much to Anuar’s frustration. However, Anuar told Xpress he will try to find another way to move forward with his plans to create short-term cabin rentals on the 22-acre plot of land.

A proposed vacation rental complex, that could house upward of ten cabins, would be located at 28 Merrill Cove Road. The land's owner tells Xpress he will look for another way to move forward with the project.
Above is 28 Merrill Cove Road, the property that was seeking to become a vacation rental complex before county staff acknowledged the zoning designation doesn’t fit the proposed use. However, the developer tells Xpress he will look for another way to move forward with the project.

In other business, the board heard from a property owner that built nearly 60 percent of his home using an improper land survey, causing issues with the home’s setback. The property’s R2 zoning requires a 20-foot setback, but due to the mistake, the owner asked for an 11.42-foot variance.

The improper survey resulted from using an incorrect parcel identification number, or PIN, the homeowner claimed. The mistake caused issues with a neighbor, but those have been resolved. The neighbors stated they weren’t happy with the situation, but wanted to resolve the issues in the name of fostering community.

Board member Keith Levi said he didn’t want the house to be torn down, but noted displeasure with the process. “You were reckless and disregarded your neighbors’ interest,” he said before voting in favor of the requested variance. It was approved unanimously and you can view a map showing the property in question here.

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

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