Letter: Haw Creek rezoning is not in community’s best interest

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The need for additional housing in the Asheville area has been well documented, so the potential for new home construction in our area is welcomed. However, the conditional zoning request by Kevin Jackson for The Meadows at Haw Creek, to rezone 26 acres of farm and forested land in the Haw Creek community from RS-4 (four units per acre) to zoning that would allow 95 homes, is clearly in conflict with the community’s interests.

Most importantly, the request is in direct conflict with Asheville’s comprehensive plan that was just completed in 2018. Residents of the Haw Creek community participated in the planning process and fully expected that the basic tenets of the plan would be adhered to in future rezoning requests.

There were six main themes in the comprehensive plan that laid out the key ideas for the city’s future growth and development. The proposed project — rezoning from the allowed 49 homes to 95 homes and removing 80% of the mature trees — would not meet any of the themes in the plan as outlined below.

The Livable Built Environment theme included directing future growth to identified growth areas, improving quality of development, enhancing preservation of neighborhood character and historic resources, increasing walkability and bikeable infrastructure, and improving ease of getting around.

The Harmony with the Natural Environment theme included supporting growth synergies between the built and natural environment, and fostering resilient redevelopment that is responsive to climate change.

A Resilient Economy theme included increasing affordable housing (note the homes would be sold at market rates) and promoting the public interest across the built environment.

A Healthy Community theme included enhancing the public safety of the public realm. The Interwoven Equity theme included expanding neighborhood planning and supporting strategies for livability and connectivity. The sixth theme, Responsible Regionalism, included preserving and celebrating regional environmental systems.

Again, the proposed conditional zoning request would violate all these planning recommendations.

Lastly, as part of the comprehensive planning process, the city asked local neighborhoods what their main concerns were related to future growth, and these were captured in the Neighborhood Plans on a Page (Appendix C, a guide for the city to use in setting priorities and facilitating improvements for residents). In 2018, the Haw Creek community highlighted inadequate infrastructure, walkability/bikeability, stormwater management, access to recreation/green space, traffic and infill housing concerns. All these concerns would be exasperated by the proposed rezoning.

As an Asheville and Haw Creek resident, I must ask our City Council members: Why would you approve a rezoning that is so openly opposed by the community and in direct conflict with a well-thought-out comprehensive plan?

The Haw Creek community is not opposed to all development  — we have supported both apartment and new home developments in the past. So, this is not a NIMBY situation. Our residents simply want reasonable development that meets the vision of a healthy, livable and connected community. I urge the City Planning and Zoning Commission and ultimately the City Council to reject the proposed conditional zoning request for The Meadows at Haw Creek.

— Doug Baughman


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15 thoughts on “Letter: Haw Creek rezoning is not in community’s best interest

  1. indy499

    The only question I had after this part of the letter “The need for additional housing in the Asheville area has been well documented” was whether it was going to followed by but or however.

    However was the winner

    • Mike Rains

      Hey indy499, do you ever have a positive comment?

      The writer makes some excellent points/concerns about the development. I hope Haw Creek residents coalesce around those and succeed in reducing the density of this project.

  2. WNC

    Each person who comes to Asheville knows housing is very expensive and should not complain. Natives feel free to complain.

    • Hiram

      Yes, there are certainly far less expensive places to live. It amazes me how that fact rarely enters the conversation regarding affordable housing. This place is an absolute bargain for consultants from California.

  3. Jeff Altman

    There was a wonderful opportunity to create housing in East Asheville in a project that the community did not oppose at the site of the former Sears store at the mall. 200+ units plus additional facilities and services woukd have been built but Council put roadblocks in the way of the developer and they walked away. In lieu of this project if the city were serious they might look at engaging with the current property owner and work toward a successful project at the Mall.

  4. Jason

    If Haw Creek residents didn’t want the land used to build apartments, maybe they should have pooled together and bought the property.

    • Mike Rains

      The proposed development is for houses. Just too many proposed on the land for the good of the neighborhood.

      • indy499

        You make assertions as if they are facts.

        here are average lot sizes:00 sq ft house: At least 0.15 acres or 6,534 square feet (607 square meters). 2000 sq ft house: Approximately 0.2 acres or 8,712 square feet (809 square meters). 2500 sq ft house: Around 0.25 acres or 10,890 square feet (1,012 square meters).

        This 26 acre property has >10,000 sq feet per lot with 20% more for infrastructure.

        You should have been tipped off when the author repeatedly wrote this is not a NIMBY issue, which of course, clls out a NIMBY issue. Just abundant smoke screen provided under we don’t want it

  5. Nostupid peoples

    Leave it to people with greed and no commonsense , to be the ones to cause cluster screw ups! Why is there NO building cap put in place? Our infrastructure has been failing us for the past three years due to overbuilding.. the leaders and the people in the county are always crying and whining about global warming, save the planet, how to preserve nature, stop pollution, well now is the time to put your wallet where your mouth is. Buy up and reserve the land to help with the cause! Instead of dumping sewer in our streams and blowing water lines all over Asheville , save our infrastructure.

    • Mike Rains

      NOT NIMBY. This 26 acre property on New Haw Creek Rd is zoned R4 (4 units per acre along with other requirements including lot size, setbacks, etc.)

      This R4 zoning perfectly fits with the LONG STANDING and EXISTING neighborhood and area. Many houses are on 1/3-1/2 acre lots. There are also a number of larger lots (multiple acres), such as this one under consideration, which will fall to excessively high density development should this one be approved. This is significant.

      The 26 acres is split by New Haw Creek Rd (NWCR) as well as Haw Creek beside the road. A not insignificant portion of the land is flood plain and can’t be used for buildiing. To the west of NWCR is 6.4 acres (of the 26), not in flood plain and quite buildable. This is the section proposed for 35 townhouses which technically comes to 5.4 units/acre but obviously meets none of the lot size, setback and other requirements of R4.

      On the east side of NHCR and past the flood plain area, the developer proposes 60 houses, each on .11 acre postage stamp lots and with much smaller setbacks. Both the houses and townhouses can be 40′ tall, which is close to 3 stories.

      Looking at the total lot size (26 acres), the propopsed number of housing units (60 houses plus 35 townhouses) comes out at 3.65 units per acre. So the density requirement of R4 is met; however, because a good number of acres are unusable, the density is much higher. Also, the requirement of all being houses, lot sizes, setbacks and other R4 requirements cannot be met. Thus the developer has submitted for RES EXP (Residential Expansion) conditional zoning. Here’s what the development code says about this zoning:

      “It is the intent of the Residential Expansion District (RES EXP) to permit a full range of high density single and multi-family housing for developments that meet the definition of a Level III development. It is intended that proposals in this district include a broad range of housing types and be located near employment centers, shopping facilities, roads and other urban infrastructure capable of handling the demand generated by higher density residential development. The Residential Expansion District is a conditional district that is applied for through a rezoning application.”

      It is clearly the intent of this conditional zoning for this higher density to be in denser, urban settings such as, for example, on Tunnel Road, or Merrimon Avenue, etc. It is clearly not the intent of this conditional zoning to be used in a bucolic and more rural setting as exists in most parts of Haw Creek.

      The proposed 35 townhouses next to NHCR will be 40 feet tall and starkly visible from that road. The 60 houses will be further back from NHCR because of flood plain between them.

      Looking for compromise, I would submit that the 35 townhouses should NOT be allowed whatsover, They are totally out of character for the area. Regarding the 60 houses, perhaps those could be allowed with less density, and more importantly, a signficant evergreen tree buffer along the floodplain that would block the view of these sure to be vertical houses that will be spaced 14′ apart from one another.

      Frankly, the first formal review of this conditional zoning by the city should “throw it out on its head”. The developer is inappropriately trying to skew the intent of the requested conditional zoning and should be taught not to waste city and neighborhood energy on such a wrongheaded request.

      However, it would be a shame to lose some reasonable development potential for this plot and many others like it the area; however, each proposed development should be required to “fit in” to the existing look and feel of this longstanding neighorhood.

      • MV

        Yeah, it’s wearying to read/hear the word NIMBY from people who oftentimes haven’t bothered to visit neighborhoods or learn about each specific project. I oppose some but not all developments.

      • Patrick Holland

        I agree with you and Mr. Baughman completely for all the points that you have raised. Given the statutes in place and the stipulations of The Living Asheville Comprehensive Plan that this development seems to be contrary to, this is a test case to see what the citizenry are willing to put up with. Despite all the platitudes expressed in the Comprehensive Plan, it is about increasing density and correspondingly increasing the tax base at the expense of current residents and property owners. If you don’t live in Haw Creek, why should this development concern you? If you go to the Asheville City website and look up the Living Asheville Comprehensive Plan on pages 345 and 346 you will find a discussion of Traditional Neighborhoods and Residential Neighborhoods. The area surrounding 767 New Haw Creek Road fits the definition of a Residential Neighborhood. “Residential Neighborhood – historically developed following a single master plan and usually developed at a lower density than traditional neighborhoods.” “With these incremental changes, residential neighborhoods have the potential to resemble traditional neighborhoods. To this end, residential subdivisions in the Residential Neighborhoods Future Land Use Category should consider a compact traditional neighborhood development pattern.” This is buried almost at the end of a 388-page document that is going to be used as the excuse to approve this development. I am a resident of the City of Asheville. I did not vote for this Living Asheville Comprehensive Plan. The mayor is the only left on the city council that adopted this plan. I would be surprised if any of the other current council members have read all 388 pages. It is clear from the approval process that has played out so far, that a lot of the approvers have not even visited the property. they are just mindlessly quoting statute requirements that the topography won’t support. There needs to be a referendum on this Living Asheville Comprehensive Plan 2018 because 99% of the residents of the city don’t know what is in it. I was one of those residents until I was forced to read it. If you live in a Residential Neighborhood inside the city limits, you should be concerned.

  6. Danielle

    I live in Haw Creek and I support the rezoning. Asheville needs more housing and our neighborhood is a lovely place to live. I welcome our new neighbors!

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