Due to rescheduling of meetings around the winter holidays, this month’s development roundup appears after both the city of Asheville’s Planning and Zoning Commission and Buncombe County’s Board of Adjustment meetings took place. The minutes from these meetings are summarized below. The regular schedule will resume in February.
City of Asheville
The public provided input on the Enka Commerce Park project before it was unanimously approved at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Jan. 4. Commissioners also heard an update from Buncombe County planners regarding the county’s comprehensive plan and discussed the commission’s 2022 annual report. The latter document is expected to be finalized by the end of this week.
Planning and Zoning Commission
The commissioners voted 6-0 to approve the conditional zoning sought by Enka Partners of Asheville LLC for 45.5 acres in Enka. Xpress first covered this project in its August development roundup (avl.mx/byl), but the item has been repeatedly delayed. (Commissioner Jennifer Bubenik was absent from the January meeting.)
The new plans call for three buildings with a combined total of 585,360 square feet, as well as 463 parking spaces and truck loading docks. The original plans called for a 129,859 square foot distribution center, along with parking for nearly 700 delivery vans and over 280 employees.
At least 15% of the site will be protected open space because the Enka Heritage Greenway crosses the property. One of the conditions for approval is to preserve the historic Enka Clock Tower.
Two letters for public comment submitted in October opposed the plan. Candler resident Louis Gire wrote that Candler residents have to leave their community in order to access stores, restaurants and entertainment; he favored a denser, mixed-use plan for the site. “A series of manufacturing facilities and warehouses will be the death nail for attracting other businesses to the area,” he wrote.
Tim Watkins, who did not provide his address, did not want the site to become a distribution center and instead supported its use by an employer like AdventHealth. (AdventHealth has floated the site as a location for its new Buncombe County hospital, though nothing has been confirmed.) Like Gire, Watkins expressed a desire for a walkable community that also featured recreational and retail opportunities.
Clark Duncan, executive director for the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County, spoke in favor of the project. “It’s exciting to see the renaissance of American manufacturing here in Western North Carolina,” he said. “This 45 acres [is] probably the best opportunity for industrial development in all of Western North Carolina at this moment,” he added, highlighting the site’s topography and access to utilities, major roads and a sizable workforce.
This project is tentatively scheduled to come before Asheville City Council for final approval on Tuesday, Jan. 24, where the public will be allowed to provide further input. Project documents can be accessed at avl.mx/btx.
Buncombe County Comprehensive Plan Presentation
Nathan Pennington and Gillian Phillips of Buncombe County’s Planning and Development Department presented an update on the Buncombe County Comprehensive Plan 2043.
Phillips observed that this is the county’s first comprehensive plan, which includes not only land use but also how it relates to environment, infrastructure and community services and amenities. The current county plan, drafted in 1998, solely focuses on land use.
Opportunities for public input have so far included 14 in-person and virtual meetings, 36 sessions at universities, schools, festivals and community markets, and 75 board and committee meetings. Overall, more than 2,900 people have participated. The planners emphasized outreach to children, who will be young adults when the long-term plan comes to fruition.
The county now has a 200-page draft plan in hand and is seeking additional feedback through Monday, Feb. 13. More information and an online survey are available at avl.mx/cbe. A joint session between the county planning board and Board of Commissioners is tentatively scheduled for April, with approval hearings by both boards anticipated in May.
Pennington spoke about ways the county and city could work together to address some of the region’s infrastructure issues. He suggested the governments could help rural areas urbanize by increasing broadband and energy access and providing new roads and sidewalk infrastructure.
He highlighted the example of East Haven Apartments in Swannanoa, where Mountain Housing Opportunities, the N.C. Department of Transportation, Dogwood Health Trust and Ingles came together to provide a sidewalk from Ingles to a crosswalk across US-70 to a car park. “People are now getting safely to the grocery store,” he said.
The presentation slides can be accessed at avl.mx/cbp.
Design Review Committee
Residents can submit comments over email and voicemail until 24 hours prior to the meeting or provide in-person comment during the meeting itself. Instructions on how to attend and comment, as well as the full meeting agenda, are available at avl.mx/8b6.
At the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment meeting on Jan. 11, board members approved one special use permit, two variances and one combined SUP and stormwater variance. All but one project were passed unanimously with a vote of 5-0.
Doran Companies, based in Minneapolis, requested a special use permit for 98.8 acres in eastern Buncombe County to construct a 516-unit Level 1 Planned Unit Development. The development will include 216 apartments across four buildings, 176 duplexes (across 88 structures) and 130 townhomes.
Planned amenities include two clubhouses with pools, two playgrounds and trail systems. The maximum density permitted in the Residential-3 and Neighborhood Service zones on which the property is located is 12 units per acre; the development as planned will have a density of 5.2 units per acre.
Multiple neighbors, including a representative of the adjacent Eastwood Village neighborhood, expressed concerns that included increased traffic, the lack of an access road to the new, larger Charlotte Highway, and potential drainage issues.
This last concern was raised in relation to the developer’s request for a stormwater variance to shift stormwater drainage from one basin to another — presumably to avoid stressing Eastwood Village’s drainage system, per the application. However, per the county staff report, the developer has not provided clear information on how much drainage area would be shifted and whether the existing infrastructure could handle the increased stormwater.
Commissioner Joel Mazlis was the lone dissenter, voting no because of his concerns about the development’s traffic impact on a one-lane bridge on Old Charlotte Highway.
Project documents can be accessed at avl.mx/cbg.
Asheville-based Heidur LLC requested a special use permit to build ten townhome units across two buildings on 2.09 acres in South Asheville. Each townhome will be approximately 1,200 square feet. A short walking trail will lead to a gazebo for residential use, and 0.5 acres will be open space.
Project documents can be accessed at avl.mx/c9c.
Alex Wunderlich of Swannanoa requested a variance to reduce the minimum lot size allowed in the Residential – Low Density zone so that he could purchase a 0.61-acre lot. The lot is currently 0.71 acres, already less than the 1-acre minimum.
The variance was requested because Jazaka Ridge Lane crosses the property, cutting off access to a 0.1-acre strip of land. That strip will now be divided between, and maintained by, five adjacent lots.
Application documents are accessible at avl.mx/c9d.
Alex Ward of Hendersonville-based Pisgah Surveying PLLC requested a variance to permit the reduction of lot sizes on 3 and 4 Miramar Drive in West Asheville. The reason was that existing structures on 5 and 6 Miramar Drive encroached on the existing lots.
Application documents can be accessed at avl.mx/cbh.