Woodfin board denies neighborhood appeal to halt Elk Mountain development

APPEALS COURT: The Woodfin Board of Adjustment voted on March 10 to deny an appeal filed against the proposed Robinhood development on the ridge of Elk Mountain. The developer, Atlanta-based HS Robinhood Owner LLC, plans to build a 116-unit multifamily dwelling. Photo courtesy of the town of Woodfin

The Woodfin Board of Adjustment voted March 10 to deny the appeal launched by neighborhood organization Citizens for Responsible Land Use against a 116-unit development on the Elk Mountain ridgeline, known as Robinhood. The appeal had taken place over seven sessions, most of which lasted at least four hours. 

As previously covered in Xpress (see avl.mx/ckq), Jessica and Alex Bernstein and the CRLU had appealed the decision based upon two main arguments. The first was that the original application filed on May 17, 2021, was incomplete and therefore invalid. The Board of ‘Adjustment rejected this argument by a vote of 4-1, with Chris DeRonne the lone no vote. Board members Scott Hanson, Stephanie Gosnell, Patrizia Hoffman and chair Michael Bennett all voted yes. 

DeRonne’s primary concern was that no approval had been obtained for public utilities, though other board members maintained this approval would  be necessary only when or if the application goes before the town’s Planning Board.

All other votes were unanimous. All five members present agreed that subsequent revisions to the application did not constitute a new one and that the application was never put on hold because the developer, Atlanta-based HS Robinhood Owner LLC, communicated sufficiently with local government whenever asked. 

Finally, they rejected the argument that the development, which is limited to one building, should be categorized as a group development and not a multifamily residential dwelling. 

At DeRonne’s request, a condition was unanimously approved and added to the decision requiring the developer to obtain preliminary approval for public utilities from the Woodfin Sanitary Water & Sewer District, as well as any necessary state agency, before going before the town Planning Board.

According to CRLU Secretary Ben Irvin, the developer requested a continuance of its hearing before the Planning Board until May. He says the neighborhood organization is awaiting the written order from the Board of Adjustment on its decision before deciding any next steps.

City of Asheville

The public will be able to provide input on three zoning map amendments and two zoning text amendments at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, which will be in person at City Hall’s first-floor North Conference Room at 70 Court Plaza. A pre-meeting of the same body to review the agenda, which is open to the public but does not allow public comment, will be at 4:30 p.m. in the fifth-floor Large Conference Room. 

The Design Review Committee will meet virtually at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20, with a pre-meeting at 12:15 p.m. the same day. The agenda for that meeting was not available as of press time. 

Planning and Zoning Commission

Residents can submit comments over email and voicemail until 24 hours before 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

Zoning Map Amendment

Fairhaven Summit Apartments (3124/3130 Sweeten Creek Road, 28803)

Property owner Fairhaven Summit LLC requests to amend the existing conditional zoning plans for 77 affordable housing units on 7.68 acres. The original plan was covered by Xpress last May, accessible at avl.mx/ck4. The requests include changing the height of two of the three buildings from a split two/four-story construction to three stories, as well as new retaining walls along the northern and western sides of the property. 

Project documents are available at avl.mx/ck3

Star Point (16 Restaurant Court, 28805)

Mountain Housing Opportunities and Shawn Sanes of Civil Design Concepts are requesting a conditional rezoning of 1.39 acres from Office/Business to Residential-Expansion in order to construct one four-story building consisting of 100%affordable housing and a detached office/leasing building. 

According to Geoffrey Barton, vice president and director of real estate development at Mountain Housing Opportunities, all 60 units will be affordable for at least 40 years to households making 60% of the area median income ($33,750 for a one-person, $38,550 for a two-person and $48,188 for a four-person household) or lower. Twelve units will be earmarked for young adults aging out of foster care, whom Barton says are vulnerable to becoming homeless.  

As a planning and zoning commissioner, Barton will recuse himself from voting on the project.

Project documents are available at avl.mx/cju

35 Long Shoals Road (Arden, 28704)

Property owners Helen Parris, the Karen Renee Holt Fraser Living Trust and the James L. Carswell Living Trust request a rezoning from Residential Single Family Low Density (RS-2) to Highway Business (HB). 

The application can be accessed at avl.mx/ck2.

Zoning Text Amendments 

Will Palmquist, principal planner with the city’s Planning & Urban Design Department, will present two proposed amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance.

According to city communications specialist Kim Miller, the first proposed amendment would revise the new open space requirement that was adopted July 26. This amendment incentivized open space on parcels less than one acre in size, as well as affordable housing on parcels over one acre. 

The current code provides open space regulation exemptions for new buildings or additions of less than 1,500 square feet. The proposed amendment will make it easier for developers constructing new buildings or additions of more than 1,500 square feet on over an acre of land without having to redevelop the site to meet current stormwater regulations. The proposed exemption would include new expansions or additions that are 50% of the building’s pre-expansion gross floor footage. This aligns with section 7-11.1 of the UDO.

In addition, the amendment would streamline the language about open space requirements in section 7-11.4 of the UDO. Since “properties with historic landmark designations” are listed as exempt from open space requirements in subsection (c), the city proposes removing the redundant “historic resources” exemption from subsection (d). 

Cat cafes allowed in more areas

The second proposed amendment suggests expanding the number of zoning districts that will allow cat cafes, defined in the UDO as “any premises used to house or contain homeless, orphaned, or unwanted cats and that is owned, operated, or maintained by an organization that is licensed by the state as an animal shelter and devoted to the welfare, protection, and humane treatment of animals for the purpose of adoption, and which incorporates retail sales to support the interaction of patrons with cats, such as a café, bookshop, or other permitted use.

Currently, cat cafes are  allowed only in the Central Business District zones. Following an application from Binx’s Home for Black Cats to open a cat cafe on Haywood Road in the Haywood Road Corridor zone (HRC-3), the proposed amendment would allow for cat cafes in any zone that permits eating and drinking establishments. 

Buncombe County

Three projects requiring special use permits are on the agenda at the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment meeting at noon Wednesday, April 10. The in-person meeting will be at the Board of Commissioners Chambers, 200 College St.  

Information on how to attend and apply for comment can be found at avl.mx/anq. No email or voicemail comments will be accepted.

Special-Use Permits

Duke Energy Solar Power Plant SUP (200 CP&L Drive, Limestone Township, 28704)

Duke Energy Progress LLC requests a special use permit to construct a 100-square-foot, 9-megawatt solar power plant and expansion of an existing substation to include a 17.25-megawatt battery energy storage facility on 60 acres. A nonsolar power station is currently on the site.

The solar station will be constructed of photovoltaic modules, which are primarily made of glass. The batteries will be lithium-ion. The system will be monitored 24/7 by Duke Energy staff, cameras and software.

Project documents can be found at avl.mx/cki

Hawthorne at Bent Creek SUP (86 Morris Road, Avery Creek Township, 28806)

Greensboro-based Hawthorne Residential Partners requests a special use permit to construct a Level 1 Planned Unit Development on 21.4 acres. The multifamily development will comprise 252 apartment units over seven buildings.

Proposed amenities include a clubhouse and pool, grilling area, trail system, playground and dog park. 

Project documents are available at avl.mx/ckj

The Villas at Haywood SUP (1923 & 1925 Old Haywood Road, 28806)

Mills River-based WDT Development,LLC requests a special use permit to build a 52-unit Level 1 Planned Unit Development on 1.69 acres. The Community Oriented Development will provide affordable senior housing. All units in the proposed four-story building will be sold for a minimum of 30 years at 80% of area median income ($45,000 for a one-person and $51,400 for a two-person household). More than 15% of the units will be one-bedroom. 

Proposed amenities include a gazebo, a computer room, exercise room, sun room, multipurpose room with kitchenette and library, craft room and office. The development scored 320 out of a possible 735 points, earning a bonus density multiplier of 3.2 units per acre. The proposed density will be 32 units per acre, below the 38.4 units per acre maximum but above the normal 12 units per acre in the R-2 zone where the development will be located. 

Project documents can be found at avl.mx/ckk


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About Sara Murphy
Sara Murphy lives in Leicester. Her work has appeared in 100 Days in Appalachia, Facing South, Polygon, and Lifehacker.

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