Letter: Haw Creek project would provide much-needed housing

Graphic by Lori Deaton

As a Haw Creek neighbor, I would like to express my support for the proposed 95-home subdivision that is set to go before the city Planning and Zoning Commission in the near future. This new development will provide much-needed housing within the city limits of Asheville, where there is already robust infrastructure to support it.

Like much of the nation, Asheville faces a housing affordability crisis. The solution to that crisis for Asheville is to build a lot more housing throughout the entire city, including in my neighborhood. If we fail to build enough housing quickly enough and if we fail to build with enough density, we risk only building houses where there is no one powerful enough to stop them from being built. We risk perpetuating the affordability crisis by forcing developers to build a few luxury houses rather than a glut of starter homes for new families. We risk pushing all newcomers to Asheville into our pristine green spaces and ridges.

Indeed, this development is to be located on a previously undeveloped parcel of land. While it can seem like a blow to the environment to build in a place that is currently green, the reality is that if we fail to build housing inside of our neighborhoods, that housing will be built in a place where the habitat destruction will be more impactful. If people cannot live inside the city, they will live in open spaces that are farther afield and far more connected to other natural areas than this plot of land between a road, a school and other subdivisions. It is up to us as community members to save connected green spaces and habitat by densifying our own neighborhoods.

I think Haw Creek is a wonderful place to live, and I am grateful to know my neighbors. I am open to hearing and mitigating concerns with the development, but we must move with haste! We cannot delay our way out of people moving to Asheville. I welcome new neighbors into Haw Creek and hope that we can continue to grow Haw Creek and all of Asheville for newcomers and long-timers alike.

— Joel Shuman


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20 thoughts on “Letter: Haw Creek project would provide much-needed housing

  1. gyp

    Thank you for this letter. Home owners associations don’t speak for the vast majority of Asheville residents, who want to see an end to the housing shortage and would love to have more vibrant neighborhoods.

    • Jeff Altman

      But t try get speak for people in proximity to thd project that may be adversely affected by s project. There is privilege to be able to tell others how they must accept what others would not tolerate near them. It is sad that in a city as progressive as ours that there is this blind spot

  2. John Appleby

    Joel – you’ve been bamboozled. These houses will not be affordable. There’ll just be a lot of them on a small parcel of land. It would be much better for the developer to show some humility and put forth a project more in keeping with the land and surrounding areas. If they had engaged the community at the outset the fight ahead would have been avoided. The only factor driving this development is profit maximization.

      • Hiram

        If we were only housing people who live and work here and put down roots, the musical chairs theory would make a stronger case. We have the added variables of investors/flippers, second-home owners and short term rentals. This isn’t to say that I’m for or against the Haw Creek development without learning more. It’s about 1/15th the size of what was proposed near Richmond Hill and far less destructive than Robinhood. I opposed both of those.

      • RG

        Musical Chairs Koolaid…that game typically would begin with, say, 6 kids of roughly the same age and buying power and 5 chairs…until they get down to one chair and two kids. If houses were chairs in Asheville, the game would work a bit differently, with one kid controlling multiple chairs while bigger stronger kids from out of town swoop in to snatch up the other chairs. It should be noted that someone just dropped out of the city council race because her chair was more valuable to the TDA.

    • spivens

      Most of the adjacent lots of this property are already developed as housing. Asheville desperately needs more homes to help drive down housing costs at all price points and building many homes, including townhomes, on smaller parcels is part of how we get there.

      • Jeff Altman

        Respectfully, tge City could approve a development on the Sears site that would be more affordable than this project but they shot it down pre-pandemic. They should approach the new owner to work on developing the site instead of it sitting empty

  3. Mike Rains

    1) Asheville SUFFERS from a very constrained property tax base. That is, the city isn’t big enough geographically to achieve the sorts of tax revenue needed to meet city needs. This all goes back to the water system, Great Depression and our beloved state legislature.

    2) Understanding/accepting 1) above, undeveloped land in Asheville IS going to be approved for development.

    3) The best a neighborhood can hope for is to receive reasonable improvements/changes from any plan. You are not going to stop development, so work to get the best deal/approach you can, whatever that might be.

    Good luck.

    • Think about it

      When do you not complain about the Sullivan Act? And no, no one needs another long diatribe about it. The Sullivan Act is so far down the list of Asheville woes that it might be nice if you learned a new tune for your fiddle.

        • Think about it

          Yes, you did. What else would your reference to the water system be about? Stop being an obtuse clown about this.

  4. Stefanie

    Yes, Asheville needs housing, especially affordable housing, but it needs to be built in a responsible way. This means adding housing along main traffic corridors with access to multi-modal transportation and existing infrastructure.

    The most important thing to know about this project, is that the housing will NOT meet criteria for affordable housing. It is also not housing for the “missing middle.” The developer has mentioned that the 60 single family homes will probably start at $550,000 and the 35 townhomes would start at $350,000.

    Sorry Joel, but Haw Creek does not have “robust infrastructure.” We have a narrow two lane road, with no shoulder, no sidewalk, no bike lanes, and no bus route to this property. We frequently have water main breaks and many residents complain that they have low water pressure. Storm water runoff continues to be a problem, as evidenced by flooding at Bullman Fields and on New Haw Creek Road. Traffic along New Haw Creek Road is already congested due to the existing neighborhoods, two schools, community pool, and Bullman Park ball fields.

    The existing 53% of tree canopy on this property will be reduced to 12%. This increases the storm water runoff issues, increases the heat island effect, and decreases the existing wildlife habitat.

    I am not opposed to development, but I am opposed to the current plan for 95 homes at 767 New Haw Creek Road. It is an irresponsible plan that does not align with the Comprehensive Plan for Asheville.

    • Mike Rains

      Not every new housing project can meet the goals of affordability and access.
      Opposing the project on that basis won’t get you anywhere, IMO.
      Again, recognizing that Asheville needs any increase in tax base is can get, I would focus efforts on how the project can be improved for the neighborhood.

      I just have seen too many cases where full opposition resulted in the project anyway and opposers gave up the ability to gain important concessions. I know that isn’t what you want to hear, but it is pretty much the reality.
      If you assume the project is going to happen in some shape or form, what are the 3 most important things the neighborhood would like addressed? Go with that.

    • Don funderud

      Amen. Nothing affordable here,except for people coming here with alot of disposable income. New haw creek rd is a state road btw, not a city street.

  5. WNC

    The basic housing principles theory is up ended when you have millions of people illegally entering your country. This is especially true when your country is very short on low to moderate housing and you’re bringing in millions of people who want free or subsidized housing at taxpayer expense.
    Same is true for medical care and hospitalization.

    • Hiram

      Yes. And here we have wealthy investors, cash buyers, corporate landlords, short-term rentals fed by the tourism machine, high interest rates…those who think we can simply build our way out of this are wildly deluded.

  6. Shultz!

    As a longtime resident of Haw Creek, I see the valley as a good option for infill as well – just not in its current state. Two small roads that are already impossible to navigate at peak times of the day just won’t cut it. If the city wants to rezone to increase density, fine, but let’s build out the infrastructure beforehand.

    • Think about it

      They never build infrastructure first…. That would require actual planning and budgeting.

    • Mike Rains

      Now you have identified something to pursue in connection with supporting this project. Get what you can. Otherwise the project is going to be approved without any improvements or neighborhood wants.

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