UPDATED: Vegas developer asks for changes to county law for ridgetop resort

DECISIONS, DECISIONS: Two renderings show how the land use for a property in the Emma’s Grove area of Fletcher would be different if commissioners decide to approve changes to the county zoning ordinance. The developer, Robert Turi, would be able to build a subdivision of single-family homes, left, without requesting changes to the ordinance, but he believes building a resort, right, would be a more efficient use of the property. Images contributed

EDITORS NOTE: The county announced on Nov. 16 that Turi has withdrawn his application for text amendments to the Steep Slope/High Elevation and Protected Ridge overlay. The public hearing that was scheduled for the Board of Commissioners meeting on Nov. 20 has been cancelled.

Robert Turi wants to build a boutique resort in the mountains outside Asheville — a place where visitors can have immediate access to nature.

“They don’t have to meet and pack into a couple cars and drive to go hiking,” he says. “They just have to walk out the door of the resort on this ridgetop.”

The Las Vegas-based developer hopes to pave the way for his vision by pushing for changes to parts of the county zoning ordinance that restrict development in steep, hilltop areas. The proposed resort would be located on three parcels totaling 182 acres in the Emma’s Grove area of Fletcher; vehicle access would be on Bob Barnwell Road.

Turi says only 18 acres of that property would be used for the resort itself, with about 5 acres cleared for the building, water reservoir and treatment plant. The rest would be set aside for parking, a pool area, a spa facility and a location for a wedding altar.

Opponents, including staff in the county planning department, are concerned the requested changes could open the floodgates for more intensive land uses in areas that have been limited to low-impact development like single-family housing.

“This would be a very radical approach to regulations that have otherwise worked really well,” says Buncombe County Planning Director Nathan Pennington.

He says the restrictions exist to preserve the region’s natural landscape, mitigate risks of erosion and steer developers toward areas already served by utilities.

The proposal has gone in front of the Buncombe County Planning Board twice and has been denied both times. The Board of Commissioners will have final say over the fate of the amendments during its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Planning staff have issued a forceful recommendation that commissioners deny the request, writing that the changes have the potential to “erode sound planning practices” in fragile parts of the local environment and “set a precedent for preference over reasonable accommodations.”

Bob Oast, an Asheville attorney representing Turi, says the proposed amendment does contain controls that would limit the scale of development in protected areas. “We don’t want to put a factory on top of the mountains here,” Oast says, “or any other kind of use that’s incompatible.”

The amendment would lump steep slopes and protected ridges into a category called a “scenic resource area.” Any development located entirely or partially in a scenic resource area would comprise a minimum of 100 acres, and at least 90 percent of the property would have to be conserved.

In other words, only 10 percent of the land could be developed. Impervious surfaces like concrete would be limited to 6 percent of the land area, and vegetation would have to hide the developed area so it would not be visible from below. Developers would also be prohibited from building in steep slope areas and moderate to high hazard areas.

Oast says he and his client are also open to limiting the permitted range of uses in these areas if the county calls for it.

HIGH HOPES: Developer Robert Turi hopes to locate a resort on a tract of land in the Emma’s Grove area of Fletcher. He would require an amendment to the county zoning ordinance to put it there. Photo courtesy of Robert Turi

Specific plans for the resort are still imprecise, but Oast says the development would be small with the intention being that the building blends into the natural landscape. The proposed location, he says, is in a flat part of the property — inside a protected ridge overlay but not on a steep slope. He says the location is also shielded from view by a screen of trees.

Turi says he originally explored the idea of putting a major subdivision on the property but concluded it would be an intrusive and inefficient use of the land. “I saw an opportunity to produce a much smaller footprint,” he says.

Dana Bell lives in South Asheville and attended a planning board meeting in August to voice her opposition to the amendment. Although she doesn’t live close to the area in question, she’s concerned that the changes could spur rampant development in similar protected parts of the county.

“What about all of the other developers that come?” she asks. “We’re not stupid. We know that every developer is not going to be this way, and we’re going to have to stay here and live with the havoc that is wreaked on our schools and our roads and infrastructure.”

She also resents that Buncombe County residents should have to live with changes suggested by a single out-of-state developer.

“Yes, he’s from out of state,” Oast says. But, “that doesn’t mean he’s going to swoop in here and do something that people won’t like.”

Brownie Newman, chair of the Board of Commissioners, says he’s willing to learn more about the proposal, but he’s skeptical. He understands the argument that additional types of development would be allowed in those areas in exchange for preservation of a significant percentage of land.

“But I think that’s offset by the fact that it would open up steep-slope areas to different kinds of development that are not allowed now,” he says. As of Nov. 7, he’s opposed to the change.

What the county is trying to do with these restrictions, Pennington says, is keep commercial and multifamily development out “ecologically sensitive” parts of the county.

“If you take away the mountains,” he says, “how are we very different from Kansas or one of the other Plains states?”

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About David Floyd
David Floyd is the Buncombe County reporter for the Mountain Xpress. He previously worked as a general-assignment reporter for the Johnson City Press. Email him at dfloyd@mountainx.com.

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80 thoughts on “UPDATED: Vegas developer asks for changes to county law for ridgetop resort

  1. Dana Bell

    Thank you for covering this issue, David. I appreciated being asked to participate. Dana Bell

  2. Robert Turi

    I find interesting is, the whole article suggests the amendment if passed gives anyone the same rights as a residential subdivision , which is false. The amendment only grants the board of commissioners to approve a project if they feel it is better use than existing ,  which is far different than how this article represents the intent of the text amendment. For Example , if the text amendment is approved, my resort is not approved. Just the amendment is approved which allows suitable projects who agree to severe preservation and conservation requirements to be considered versus residential subdivisions which have NO RESTRUCTIONS or PRESERVATION requirements. Subdivision projects already are an entitlement by right , meaning I don’t have to ask for 50 lots . The resort however must get board of commissioner approval under this text amendment . If the board of adjustments, planning staff and board of commissioners do not find a proposed project using this amendment clause is not suitable for the Ridgeline even if they meet the strict environmental and concealment requirements, they can deny the application. That’s the difference between the existing right for residential subdivision already permitted by right in the zoning ordinance and the proposed text amendment .

    • Fanny

      I think a nice resort would be much better than a housing development. So many people here are so opposed to development that they often resist before really thinking it through. The area will grow one way or another, a good business that protects the land isn’t a bad way to grow

      • Thank You Fanny for seeing the forest beyond the tree. Unfortunately few who have commented failed to think beyond the tree and which forest would they prefer to have. Based on the overwhelming response against 90 % open space and a destination resort which guests stay on the property ; it looks like a 50 lot subdivision will instead be the destiny for the property, no open space, significant tree removal and grading . This is what the majority wants it seems .

        • Fanny

          It seems like a lot of the commenters don’t view this as option: a or option: b. They somehow think that by saying no the land will remain undeveloped, and I can’t tell if that’s because of the wording of the article or just because the gut reaction to development is so strongly negative that they aren’t thinking through the proposal logically. I guess I’ve always lived in areas of tourism so I don’t see it as inherently negative. I do think controlling how it’s handled is important though, and by digging their heels in against all change it seems like people will allow others to dictate how the change happens

      • Robert Turi

        Smart, very smart , you get it

        I am always happy to see intelligence emerge from the mob that surrounds it. You can see the forest beyond the solitary tree . Bravo

        • Tim P.

          No mob here, guy. Just hardworking, sincere folks. You seem a bit dishonest in your business calms and frankly, condescending. How does one run an empire out of a residential address? Seems rather shady. You kind of remind me of another self proclaimed real estate guy.

          Anyway, I look forward to being downtown on the 20th to voice my feeling with my friends Monica and Casey! Should be fun.

  3. Hi David , thank you for covering this story. If i may add that the biggest point of this amendment wasnt addressed ? The article suggests the amendment if passed gives anyone the same rights as a residential subdivision , which is false. The amendment only grants and applicant the “Right to Ask” the Board of Commissioners to approve a project if they feel it is better use than existing . This was unfortunately not focused on in the article. If I read your article without having knowledge of the text amendment , I would think the resort is being considered for approval on November 20, which it is not. Only the Text Amendment is being considered. Which I would add again, if approved only gives an applicant a right to ask for approval of their project as compared to the graphic of the residential subdivision that would tear out trees, cause erosion from grading streets and 50 lots. That application is perfectly allowed by existing zoning law and I don’t have to ask, it’s a right granted to the property to develop a residential development with no open space.

    I want to see more preservation. So my amendment says in order to be granted the “right to ask permission” to build a resort, I must set aside 90% of the land to open space, and guarantee it is left in its natural state forever. Existing zoning requires NO OPEN SPACE for residential so homeowners could later further take down trees or add structures.

    The second element of my text amendment requires that the resort or similar use must be hidden on a Ridgeline that is flat and heavily forested along all sides so that the proposed 2 story structure is hidden from view from the valley floor below. The existing zoning requires NO SUCH INVISIBILITY requirement for subdivisions built on a ridgeline, including ridgelines that have NO trees .

    These are two very tough requirements to meet and as a result , only a handful of properties can meet them in Buncombe County. That was the point of the writing the amendment. To give the Board of Commissioners the right to say yes if a great project is proposed. Currently, the Elected Board has no Right to approve anything unless it meets the approved zoning as determined by the non elected planning department. I have simply proposed granting the board of commissioners a vehicle (text amendment) a way to say yes to a great project application which they cannot do today.

    I just wanted to make sure readers understand this text amendment simply adds a new option to zoning ordinance. It doesn’t approve my project. It does allow me the right to ask for approval , should the project when it is submitted and heard before the board of comissioners which I could not do under current zoning law.
    That’s all

    thanks
    Robert J Turi

    • 90% required open space as proposed by this amendment versus ZERO open as required by existing zoning for residential development

      Which one sounds more like conservation planning to you ?

      Why is planning department so opposed to it?

      Any project submitted using this amendment is NOT guaranteed approval like current zoning does for residential subdivisions. This amendment only grants an applicant the “right to ask” ?

      If you can build a two story resort inside and surrounded by 80 ft tall trees , cause no erosion, not build on steep slopes , and not stand out like the grove park hotel , why would anyone object to a small area development in return for 90 % preserved open space including hillsides ?

      • Ron Patton

        “If you can build a two story resort inside and surrounded by 80 ft tall trees , cause no erosion, not build on steep slopes , and not stand out like the grove park hotel , why would anyone object to a small area development in return for 90 % preserved open space including hillsides ?”

        Your ability to do what you say is highly doubtful based on historical regional experience – hence the reason why we have a strict steep slope ordinance. Too many outside developers with absolutely no experience developing in difficult environmentally sensitive terrain have come in, created small scale disasters, went bankrupt, and then left town with their promises leaving us to clean up their mess. No more. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors in Las Vegas.

        • robertturi

          you see Ron, Thats excatly my point

          Highly doubtful except in this case its not . every peice of land is unique and not all ridgelines are covered in trees and not all ridgelines come to a point . planning placed a blanket assumption thinking like this and I get that. But what if inmy case, i have a great property i dont want to see chewed up by residential development? or say someone wants to build a two story home on a ridgeline on 200 acres but are prevented by nature of the current zoning ordinance . you can build single story homes all you want on barren ridgelines and homes stick out like sore thumbs . if you move the house down the slope (slope development) you can build taller houses which stand out like a sore thumb .

          This amendment , and lets be clear this AMENDMENT is all that is being voted on , not a resort ; allows land owners who have unique property to explore other uses besides full on development of the property for resdiential use without open space .

          As for the property in question. i have close to 15 acres of flat land on the ridgeline surrounded by old groth timber that is heavily forested land including down the slopes in all directions , effectively screening 100% of the plateau . line of eyesight as you probably are aware when you are standing down below , you would not see anything through the trees and even if there were no trees , setting the building in the center , your eyesight cant bend offer the crest of the slope , which would still make the structure hidden.

          As for my las vegas location, soon to be asheville. I have built over 10,000 homes, including custom homes, aprtments, luxury townhomes , buisness parks, etc.. as a developer /operator i have created and constructed developments that have produced over 55,000 residential units and over 15 million square feet of commercial development .

          I have work in states all across the country and forgive me for saying this but california hillsides which are heavily wooded are far more difficult to develop and build on than asheville . I have experience in flowing sands, clay, soil slippage, sinking mud, rock, differential settlement , landslides. toxic brownfield remediation , ocen front, lake front, bay front, steep slope construction, expansive soils.

          People have a tendancy to assume things about other people when they actually have no clue. i plan on living in Asheville come the new year neighbor. because I like it not becuase i choose to develop it . I have spent the last 8 years working on new development exclusively on the south east and have found 99% of the people charming, freindly and welcoming. This morning I recieved a call from Charles Barnwell the sone of the late Bob Barnwell where the property entrance is located. I answered the call and was met with a sold 30 seconds of profannity laced yelling and then a hang up . He was ranting about a resort . I didnt appreciate the insulting call but he has a right to in america to voice his opinion. Luckily my daughters didnt answer the call.

          The sad part about the call is once again, he was ‘assuming’ we are asking for a resort approval come November 20 . Which is NOT what the hearing is about . Its about approving an Amendment that gives land owners the right to ASK for another land use use similar to a resort, retreat, bed and breakfast , rehab facility . that is it. thats all you can ask for under this amendment and when you apply you must meet the 90% open space require, your facility must be invisible and it must be no less that 100 acres. And after you submit your application , go to board of adjustment , you still must go to the board of commisioners who will decide if the project is warranted of approval . There is NO RIGHT like current zoning allows for residential development on this property . No, just a Right to ASK . That is what is being voted on November 20.

          Nothing else, No Resort, No Hotel, NO anything .

          I believe when someone does use this amendment, they will know what they have and if their property qualifies. But if they dont, I do believe PLanning Staff, Board of Adjustments and Board of Commissioners will Know if the proposed project is suitable or Not!

          Three layers of approval that must be accomplished under this amendment . I think it is pretty safe to presume nothing besides true deserving projects will be approved under this amendment and 90% will not be approved becuae they dont fit

          • Ron Patton

            I have just a couple points of reply and I’ll leave it to the Board of Commissioners to send you on your way on November 20th:

            “Highly doubtful except in this case its not … in my case, i have a great property i dont want to see chewed up by residential development ” – Said most EVERY previous outside developer who then proceeded to do just that. It’s unfortunate for you that your peers and predecessors set that precedent, but they did, and you now have to live with the consequences.

            “…he was ‘assuming’ we are asking for a resort approval come November 20 . Which is NOT what the hearing is about .” – But if approved on November 20, the next step for you IS to come back and ask for a resort approval. Please don’t hide behind the misdirection of “Pay no attention to little ol’ me. I’m just asking for a teeny tiny amendment.” We are smarter than that.

            If preserving ridgetops is so important to you and you have the finances to do it, why not create a Land Conservation and Preservation Trust, put 100% of that land in the trust, move to Asheville, and be a local hero. I’m pretty certain you’d have total support from the residents, the planning board, and commission for that option.

            Ron

          • Rike Peevey

            Hello Robert….
            My first reaction after reading your post is that if you build with the same attention to detail as you do in your ability to write, Asheville is doomed. Secondly, Asheville is by no means in need of additional development just to make some “developer” from other parts of the country more money. This is still a country town but in the last few years developers have decimated the sky line without any regard to the continuity of our beautiful city. Is it really worth the hassle to obliterate the scenic beauty of Asheville and destruction of what’s left of the habitable land left for our wildlife? My last remark, find another place to build your “resort”.

      • Ron Patton

        “and not stand out like the grove park hotel”

        Important tip: To make a friend or to win an argument in the south (anywhere for that matter) it’s not a good idea to ride in on a high horse and immediately and publicly insinuate that someone’s mother or sister or famous landmark is ugly. It tends to turn people off and send you packing.

        Last I checked, the Grove Park Inn was built in 1912/1913 and, according to the Buncombe County Steep Slope Calculator, it’s far from falling under the Steep Slope Ordinance being at 2445′ elevation and 15.9% slope.

        Ron

        • robertturi

          Ron

          the point was height above Grove Park , i am sure you get that . the extensions of the grove park were built much later and the condos were built even later . correct .

          What i find in the south are people who are honest and straight up, express their opnions and are always polite. What i also find are elitist who are arrogant, condensending , game players who like to twist words, confuse and distort just like we have on the west coast. this type of person is not genuine , they have no idea how to be . they like to mess with people, they live and breath hyprocisy . they can condemn some for something while ignoring the very same thing on something they like . It always baffles me these type of people and if they ever look in the mirror and ask themselves “who do they see”

          • bsummers

            Wow. You do know how to win people over, don’t you?

        • robertturi

          Ron

          and for your hstory lesson

          2001 the Grove Park Inn added the two expansion towers on each side of the main hotel tripling the hotel rooms of the texas owned Omni Grove Park Hotel

          • Ron Patton

            Robert

            And for your geography and legislative lesson, the Grove Park Inn is inside the Asheville city limits. The Buncombe County ordinance which was effective 2006/2007 does not apply.

            It was cute, throwing in that dig that the Grove Park is now “texas owned”. We all know that, and it actually goes towards proving our point about what outside developers eventually end up doing. Thanks for that.

  4. We are seeking approval of a text amendment , nothing more or less . we want the board of commissioners to have a tool that allows them to approve high quality projects that currently prohibit the Board of Commissioners from voting on under the existing zoning ordinance drafted by unelected county employees

    That’s the main issue , the amendment is a tool for OU zoning properties that can meet the criteria set forth in the amendment to have the right to ask the Board of Commissioners , who ultimately would vote on the project, to consider their proposed project.

    The Board of Commissioners in the end will decide if a proposed project meets the criteria and is a suitable applicant to be approved under this amendment

    That is the amendment in a nut shell and the issue before the commissioners Nov 20 . Are they willing to consider other OU zoning land uses if presented to them that qualify under the text amendment requirements and does the Board find the project suitable for the area and its use there?

    The Board of Commissioners has FINAL SAY on every application that uses this amendment

    • Tim P.

      Develop somewhere else. Nobody wants mountain top neighborhoods. Your not special, zoning guidelines are in place to prevent your development from taking place. Poke the bear, Buncombe County dares you.

      • jason

        I wouldn’t mind living on a mountain top. You don’t speak for the rest of us.

        • Joe Smithy

          He speaks for me and I would be willing to bet a TON of Asheville citizens…. I agree with Tim. Take your big money somewhere else and leave nature alone.

        • Lulz

          What’s funnier is have they looked at the mountains lately? They’re all developed LOL.

          • robertturi

            this is my point , i dont think most residents in Asheville comprehend that current zoning law PROMOTES development of the ridgeline and steep slopes , which causes permanent scarring of the natural environement . The homes each require clearly for a building pad and a clear buffer around it for fire saftey, it requires cutting into slopes to grade a driveway and flat building pad, it requires cutting down trees , it requires cutting and clearing for a septic tank and for the leach lines and the same for a well location, including clearing an area large enough for a drill rig, trucks to get to the specific area. You add that up and the disturbance of one single home can easily be 1 acre of clearing and cutting down trees.

            The proposed resort example that is only used for this amendment to show the difference between allowed housing versus other possible uses that are lower intrusion / concentrated development , uses approximately 5 acres total for a building pad and parking and water tank and treatment plant . 5 acres for a resot versus 50 acres for 50 lots . I dont understand why Asheville Buncombe County residents would not embrace this kind of conservation over existing zoning law?

      • Because

        Poke that bear! Citizens are getting fed up with all the eco minded (read money minded) rationalizers. Poke the bear…go on…

        • robertturi

          what is poke the bear mean ? why does anyone want to poke a bear ? lol

          Sometimes my friend, people do good things not for money . have a little trust in humans that want to do the right thing to protect what is important which in this case isnt money

      • robertturi

        you already have mountain top neighborhoods Tim. Residential Subdivisions are allowed by right to be approved on ridgelines and steep slopes. Would you prefer 50 lots covering 182 aces and the roads that have to be built to serve them? Thats your current zoning ordinance , FACT

        • Tim P.

          Fact, you spin a good yarn, developer man. California costly wildfires are because of overdevelopment in areas that shouldn’t have been built upon. Las Vegas is built in the middle of a vast arid dessert. Water usage is already a major issue. Please spare the double-talk and well intentions. You are about 10 years too late in the developmental of Buncombe County. The cakes and pies have already been eaten.

          My not sure you understand that MOST people of the area are over the unending development. There has been no increase in infrastructure support for the long time, full time residents. You just rode in to town at the wrong time kind Sir.

          Look at Biltmore Farms, they can’t even sell their lots, on the lake….and they kind of have the inside track.

          • Robert Turi

            Yet more continues to be approved every week . It’s not going away . Growth never does

      • Robert Turi

        Timmy

        Current Zoning ordinances already allow me by right to build a residential subdivision on the property including homes on the ridgeline and I don’t have to go before any public hearing to get approved. I was just trying to preserve 167 acres out of 182 acres and build a low key destination resort . Go figure ?

    • David Floyd

      Hey Robert, thanks for your comment. I just talked to the planning director with the county, and he said the text amendment as written would put the review of these projects in front of the Board of Adjustment, not the Board of Commissioners. Commissioners deal with text amendments and rezoning requests.

      • robertturi

        the Planning Director is mistaken , it goes to Board of Adjjustment and then to the Board of Commissioners . He should read the amendnemt versus assuming what is typically done

        • bsummers

          Yes, I’ve found that trying to publicly embarrass County staff is definitely the way to get what you want.

          • robertturi

            point well taken . certianly not the intention here

      • robertturi

        i just had a call from Charless Barnwell who simply yelled profanities over the phone for 20 seconds and hung up ???? Does Barnwell own Cloud 9 resort , which of course a new resort would impact ? is it typical for southerns to call and scream profanities to a total stranger? How did he even get my phone number is more interesting ?

        • Ron Patton

          “How did he even get my phone number is more interesting ?”
          I guess you’re not tech savvy. It took me less than 10 seconds to find that and much more on the internet.

        • Jennie B. Cheeks

          Bob does NOT own Cloud 9 farms, a wonderful little small business that provides rental cabins and wedding /event space, which would REALLY be impacted by your planned/eventual development. The big guys always like to come in and stomp on the little guys…..

  5. 90% required open space is required by this Text Amendment as compared to ZERO Open Space required by existing zoning for Major Rresidential Subdivisions on the Protected Ridge Lines and Steep Slopes

    Which one sounds more like conservation planning to you ?

    • Sam

      Or how about just not build this “resort” and preserve 100%!? Go back to LV please. We love our mountains here very much. They are the reason many of us live here. They are healing. They are beautiful. They clean our air and provide us with a natural playground. We do not need yet another place for weathly out of towners to play tourist in for the weekend.

      Also, I’d like to add that part of the fun in going for a hike is meeting up with your friends, piling into a few cars, and cruising the parkway up to an awesome hiking spot. Walking out the front door of your fancy hotel does not a hike make.

      • robertturi

        Thank you Sam for your neighborly warm welcome especially since I am moving to Asheville to live there.

      • robertturi

        im trying to preserve the ridgelines and hillsides Sam. Have you look recently atthe hillsides, and mountains lately ? Arden, Southcliff, black mountain, fairview, poplar ridge, biltmore highlands all the development is on the hillsides and it requires not open sapce requirements , screening, concentrated denisty to avoid sprawl . im trying to protect 200 acres by building on 10-12 acres of the land and leaving the rest untouched forever . why does anyone have a problem with that compared to what is going on everyday in Buncombe where none of the new developments have protected , preserved open space of 90% of the total land ???

        • Sam

          If you want to preserve the land why not do simply that? Why build ANYTHING if you are truly interested in land preservation?

          You better get used to other “warm welcomes” such as what I extended to you. Trust me, what I said was very tame compared to what long-term locals will toss your way. Don’t move here. We don’t want cha! Plain and simple.

          Oh, and to say this isn’t about money is LAUGHABLE.

  6. tipsycat

    To all concerned:

    I am a resident of the Arden / Fairview, N.C. community and want to express extreme concern about proposed plans to develop a hotel or “planned unit development commercial center” on the top of the ridgeline on Butler Mountain near the Emma’s Grove Road/ Bob Barnwell Road area. This plan will set a terrible precedent by making exception to the ridgeline laws currently protecting us from such developments and could potentially open the door to similar ridgetop condominiums, restaurants, hotels, and similar sources of light pollution which could ruin the natural beauty of our unique, blue ridge mountain region. What makes the Asheville region so beautiful is that it does not look like every other sprawling, cookie-cutter suburb in America due to its green, forested mountain ridges.

    We are organizing a grass-roots community effort to demonstrate our opposition to this development plan and other similar development plans in the future. We are asking that our local news media organizations strongly consider sending their representatives to the press release by the developer to be held at the Skyland Fire Department located at 310 Williams Road, Arden, NC 28704 planned for 17 November, 2018 at 3PM. The developer’s attorney will be providing plans and information for the proposed development at this time and location. Perhaps more importantly we are asking for media to be present at the Buncombe County Board Of Commissioners Meeting planned to be held at the Buncombe County Government Human Resources Building at 200 College Street, Asheville, NC, 28801 on 20 November, 2018 at 5 PM.

    We are asking that the news media of this region spread the word regarding this issue to our concerned citizens of Buncombe County and attempt to protect our ever dwindling natural landscape and environment from such ridgeline, commercial, exploitative developments particularly from out of state developers. We need to carefully consider the complex impacts of such developments in terms of increased traffic burden on our roads, light and noise pollution, pesticides, and sewer burden and drainage into residential well-water at lower elevations. We also need to organize our efforts to preserve a natural habitat for indigenous species of wildlife living along the ridgelines which provide regions of shelter from our ever-expanding encroachment!

    Sincerely,

    Joe Kelley, MD

    • robertturi

      Dr Kelly,

      I share your concern but am confused as to why you would critize a development that produces less sewer, less destruction to naturual terrain and is a two story height structure just like residential buildings? I am not sure you are aware residential construction is totally permitted on ridgelines and steep slopes under your existing ordinance. they all use septic tanks and leach sewer waste into the ground. they cause erosion of sopes and they are not required to provide any open space protection. Any land owner can cut down trees on their property as they wish after the fact and that is not what i call preservation . The planned low height resort leaves a disturbance footprint equal to about 20 homes versus the 50 homes the property by right can develop. The resort uses a state of the art treatment plant not a septic system that takes in waste water and exists class 1 water which doesnt cause any contamination to lower elevation wells . If i can build single family homes every 300 ft along the ridgeline line without trees , how is that less intrusive than one structure nestled within existing trees that is invisible from the valley floor below?

      You should read the text amendment , before assuming to know what is in it . you may like what you read.

    • Delta Golf

      Thank you Dr. Kelley for the information. I will be organizing folks to attend the 20 NOV Commissioners meeting to protest this newest money grab from yet another out of state developer.

    • Robert Turi

      Thank Timothy for your service to veterans in need of medical care ..God Bless You

  7. Melanie

    Mr. Turi – You sound surprised that people are opposed, when it’s extremely easy to understand. I think the majority of locals would prefer to keep the 100%. While your goal is make MONEY, our goal is to keep our mountains, so many of which have already been ruined by houses, developments and traffic. Surely, you cannot be this naive to not understand this and are simply trying to make locals feel stupid for not seeing YOUR personal money making dream. I hope the community comes out in DROVES to stop you and others like you. I’m sure you have enough money. Stay in Vegas. Develop the desert, which is already barren. Leave our beautiful mountains alone.

    • robertturi

      Melanie Thanks for your feedback

      I am in business like all of us who work. if our businesses did not make money, we would not have jobs . However, that is not my focal point here. i do master plan developements all across the country where it makes sense to do them

      I do not feel comfortable ripping up 200 acres of beautiful old growth forest for a 50, 1-2 million dollar homes . it is why i came up with the amendment . The planning department when i met them 18 months ago was more than happy to approve a resdiential subdivision because their zoning ordinance promotes this type of development . I know what kind of destruction to the trees and ecosystem happens if i grade roads and building lots and on this property i felt it was irresponsible to do that. So I wanted to try something that was unique . a low key resort situated in its own forest. Completely hidden from view, using only a fraction of the land a resiential development would take and destroy. I impose serious requirements in the amendment like 90% open space of the total acreage that can never be used for development , ever . The project must be totally hidden from view . something again, existing zoning does not require for resdiential development.

      I am not going for approval of a resort right now , i dont know if people understand that . I am asking the Board to approve an amendment that requires strict enviromental applications which i just outlined as an alternative to large parcels of land that someday could be forced to go residential by land owners who have no choice because that is all that is allowed by Buncombe County Zoning today . I am trying to pass an amendment that gives land owners of large parcels “other options” besides residential but they must follow the strict requirements set forth in the amendmenet and even then, they must get approval from the Board of Commissioners for their proposed project. How many properties will qualify for this amendment, perhaps 10 -15 properties in Buncombe county , but if i can save 10 -15 properties and generate 1,000-2,000 acres of preserved open sapce it was worh it

    • robertturi

      Melanie

      I dont know what to say about you rbelief that people do things just for money . im sorry you have developed that belief about all human beings . i regret to inform you making money is the last thing i was focused on here. Preserving the property so if someone develops it, 90 % of the land is preserved open space was my objective from day one . take a look around the hills of Buncombe County and Asheville and tell me that housing isnt everywhere in the hillsides . Tell me grove park inn doesnt stick up like a flag pole in the middle of trees and that condo project next to it isnt an eye sore . Im trying to avoid all those things plus [reserve 90 % of the land for future potential development projects that choose to follow this amendment . The Board is voting on the amendment NOT my resort concept . Does everyone understand that ? I m trying topass an amendment that requires 90% open space compared to ZERO open sapec requirement now! I am asking to make development Invisible from view as compared to no such requirement Now! . Thats what is going before the Board, NOT a resort development . that has to be a seperate application that goes through the same process as every other developement

        • Because

          Excellent, Laurie! Thumbs up! Anyone that writes so well, and is sooo sympathetic and beautifully persuasive is suspect. “Big front, big back,” as the saying goes.

        • robertturi

          Laurie

          If you want to buy the land and make it preservation , i am willing to do so. I have $4.8 million invested in the land. I would gladly accept that price so you can preserve it .

    • Sam

      Very well said thank you! He just does not understand that we love these mountains! All he sees is $$$$$$.

  8. Ron Patton

    If you have any doubts about the ultimate intentions of Robert Turi and his Summit Land Group, look at the Summit Land Group website at: http://www.summitlandgroup.com (summitlandgroup dot com). Stay on the home page and let those pictures play out in front of you. Imagine that on the ridges and mountain tops of Western North Carolina. It’s what he does. He’s proud of it. He places it front and center on his website. He can’t deny his history.

  9. Lulz

    Robert, you’re trying to convince a bunch of hypocrites who themselves moved here and ruined the area. Go into some of the surrounding counties and develop land. You’ll have more success, deal with better people, and have less stress in the long run. In Asheville, those of us who own homes are being fleeced by a government that is out of control. And what’s funnier is residents gladly come online and proclaim they’ll pay more to live in the city they want via higher taxes. And so with that mentality in mind, they can also pay higher rents AND NOT COMPLAIN. On top of it, Buncombe county government is corrupt to a tee. Asheville and Buncombe county is not a place you want to waste your time with, If I were you, I’d be looking into Yancy/Burnsville. The road has just been widened, plenty of land is available for sale, and it’s got views. Especially as you come down the mountain heading west into Madison.

    Take a drive around here and see for yourself. Buncombe is going to have problems down the line especially when a drought hits or the economy sinks. And it will. I lived through one year long drought here in 1986 and that was with none of the burdens of breweries and tourism to compound it.

    • Robertturi

      Thank you for your comment . I will investigate these areas. I already have a master plan evolving in union county that will total 2,200 homes . This was something I was hoping to do that was special versus mass development . Go figure?

  10. Scott Little

    Well if I were Robert Turi, after all the stones thrown at me, I would go for the money and build out the 50 lots. No fuss, no worries, no amendments, no changes, no dealing with idiots. Essentialy already approved.

    He is trying to develop a 5 acre section, of 186 acres, completely hidden from view, and to include his own water treatment facility. NO! Make him build according to existing and outdated regulations. Fill the whole property with roads and cars and houses and street lights.

    I also would bet that more than 75% of the NIMBYs on here, have moved here within the last ten years. Now raising their fists in the air screaming First! Like a bunch of grade schoolers.

    Also, for spite, build those 50 lots with basic spec houses.

    Noticeably not one argument presented has addressed his points, all of them just assume it is a money grab, without responding to the Issues and perspectives presented. Shame…as for me, I welcome Mr Turi and his out of the box thinking and creativity.

    • Delta Golf

      Other than military service I’ve lived in Buncombe Co. all my life. I’ll continue to express my disapproval as I see fit.

    • Thank you , you saw the forest beyond the tree, contrary to so many who obviously don’t understand the zoning laws, Ridgeline laws and whats already allowed by right

      You are correct in your conclusion . Thats where I’m heading now , no hearings, no asks, already granted by right , no open space, homes on the Ridgeline

      This is what the people wanted it seems , they will get it now.

    • Scott, when I move to Asheville , I look forward to meeting you . I always need good people with brains . 2019 coming soon

  11. Enlightened Enigma

    locals be like ‘not in my backyard’…thing is the man has the right to develop the property and good luck to him! he’s trying to offer a sustainable development but the locals are just too intolerant…funny how intolerant this ‘tolerant’ city/county always is…there are lots of intolerance here from many with christians included at the top of the list… people here should be thrilled that anyone wants to build a business here because it’s no picnic given all the government controls and evil democrackkks!

    • God bless you and your wisdom . Mobs are the new form of free speech along with threats and violence. Sad to see so many nimby minds in Asheville but most nimbys are by definition hypocrites

      Good luck to you my friend and when I move into my new home in Asheville in 2019 I will look you up . Always open to providing good jobs to good people with a brain

    • Dana Bell

      …..except my understanding is that Mr. Turi does not own the property – YET. He will close on it after he gets the rules changed to suit his preference for building on the site. I’d be very surprised if any developer would pursue building the number of homes that are shown in the first graphic because it would be completely cost-prohibitive.

      • Robert Turi

        Dana, just 100% wrong on every point you just stated. That would be graded an F

        • Tim P.

          I’m guessing you don’t know Buncombe County has a public GIS. Family trust usually involve more than one party. Also, image search provides insight on fraudulent development claims. I know, the cyber is hard.

          • Robert Turi

            Timmy Timmy , you are wrong too . Ughhh. Yes I use buncombe gis all the time . Provide good Intel on property , zoning, contour, flood, utilities , all kinds of stuff . Most counties across the whole country Timmy have these websites . And then there is another level you get when you pay for the subscription service with the state and counties

  12. Tipsycat

    Everyone opposed to the amendment altering the protection from ridgeline development please come to the Buncombe County Commissioner’s meeting on 20 November at 5 PM at 200 College Street in Asheville NC to voice your concerns at this attempt to circumvent the law protecting our ridgelines.

      • Scott Little

        This is the key point that no one seems to get. That and the fact that the amendment only gives the right to ASK and only under pretty strict conditions. Also, Mr Turi, do not judge our fair city or most denizens by a few vocal naysayers. You will love living here.

        • Robertturi

          Thanks Scott . I appreciate your warm and sincere hospitality , which is what caught my attention these past 8 years doing deals in the southeast. You win some, you lose some, but you don’t stop doing what you love ……BobTuri

  13. Tipsycat

    We are less opposed to a reasonable residential development plan and more opposed to setting a legal precedent allowing for our ridgelines to be developed which could be applied throughout Buncombe County and perhaps other North Carolina counties in the future.

    • Turi

      I get that 100% . When I first started this, I went to planning and asked how we do this for just this site. The answer was no. They eventually offered their advice ” request an amendment to allow hotels inside the Ridgeline protection overlay” my consultant was told. I knew that was 100% wrong because I didn’t want the whole county being exposed to any uses on the Ridgeline and I knew such an amendment was suicide to try. So much for help. So we drafted a text amendment that made it almost impossible for just any Ridgeline property to meet by requiring specific criteria and if they did meet it, only 4 uses could be considered. Then, in the end, the board of commissioners would have to approve it. This is all about justifying the right to ask. Versus current zoning that allows residential by right , no hearings, unless you want to exceed or deviate from ordinance.

      I wanted to create a unique place on unique land and do something people who visited would really enjoy. That was the basis for the idea . It seemed low intensity , low intrusion, jobs, tax revenue and open space preservation while finding a use that could generate a minimum profit to pay the debt financing and eventually payoff the mortgage . Didn’t do a good job informing the public what this was versus a typical hotel which this wasn’t

  14. Turi

    Maybe I can get some you to come with me to the plateau so you can actually see I’m not making this up, about a 2 story resort being invisible from view . People who went to the top and saw how big an area exists that’s flat, admitted they didn’t believe but now they do

    • Robbie Owenby

      Hi , Mr Turi , I must chime in and say my grandfather was Bob Barnwell and as I do not reside in the community I own 10 acres in the mentioned property of my late grandfather I just want to say that the person mentioned Charles is not my grandfather’s son but a nephews son . My grandfather had a son named Charles but he is deceased . I just want to welcome you to Asheville and I hope you find a pleasing solution to your endeavor on my grandfather’s road . He would shake your hand and welcome you in for a chat ! If it were dinnertime you would be welcome . I look forward to meeting you some day . I would much rather see a resort than a lot of houses on the property . Thank you and our family wish you the best !
      I believe you . My land is on a Ridgeland .

      • Robert Turi

        Robbie
        Thank you for your comment and explanation. Your grandfather sounds like he was a great role model and honorable man. May God Bless him and his children and those he left long lasting memories of his kindness . I wish I could have met him. We will meet , I promise you that Robbie. I send you my contact info. Bob Turi

  15. Michael Barrett

    Mr. Turi,
    I would like to thank you for your consideration and efforts towards conservation of a truly unique Asheville mountain forest. My family has lived in Merrills Cove for over 26 years and our property adjoins the parcel you are looking to develop. I believe that much of the hostility and barriers you had experienced in pursuit of what could be a sound plan towards limited development with significant conservation is a result of past abuses from irresponsible developers and politicians. Much could and should have been avoided. Our steep slope and ridge overlay ordinances were a step in the right direction.
    Absent proper land use planning and environmental safeguards, Significant development on this or any of our mountain ridges can adversely impact hundreds of neighboring properties. Run off from erosion, pavement / parking and waste water could flow through miles of land into the French Broad river. Project water use could lower local water tables and adversely impact spring and stream levels supporting our abundant wildlife.
    Most folks here recognize that some level of development is inevitable. I remain optimistic that we may be able to support you in achieving a realistic solution in protecting our dwindling natural resources while accommodating an intelligent land use plan. Your offer to meet with some of your neighbors in civil dialogue was well received. Please feel free to contact us via post on merrillscove.com

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