Letter: Opponents fail to make case against Haw Creek rezoning

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Asheville desperately needs more housing. This does not mean that every proposed development is a good idea, but it does mean that those who oppose a development in their neighborhood need to offer solid reasons why it would be significantly detrimental. This the opponents of The Meadows at Haw Creek have failed to do.

They point out that The Meadows does not include low-income housing. But if the rezoning allowing the project is not approved, the housing built on the site will be much more expensive. It will consist of free-standing houses on large lots, rather than the proposed townhomes and medium-size houses clustered close together, affordable to middle-income families.

The opponents complain that trees will be cut down. But if there is no rezoning, those trees will be cut down anyway, as the owner of the property has the right to build on the wooded areas. And opponents seem unaware of broader environmental issues — if close-in neighborhoods block development, it will just be pushed farther out, with much worse environmental consequences: the loss of forests and habitat, and people having to take longer car trips to get to work and services, resulting in more carbon in the atmosphere.

Then there’s traffic. Yes, whenever even a few more houses are built, there will be some more cars on the road. But according to opponents’ own traffic study, the increase will be only about 13%. The state Department of Transportation considers this to be too low to warrant further study of how many cars will be at various points at different times, as the impact is just not expected to be very great.

If The Meadows is built, a few people who have been lucky enough to look out at woods on others’ property will instead see yards and houses, like most of the rest of us, and there will be a bit more traffic. But these are simply not good enough reasons to deny 95 middle-income families the opportunity to buy homes near jobs and amenities. As a resident of Haw Creek, I urge Asheville City Council to approve the necessary rezoning.

— Michael Bell


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4 thoughts on “Letter: Opponents fail to make case against Haw Creek rezoning

  1. Think about it

    How about you mind your own neighborhood? Why do you get to decide what is appropriate for others? Certainly, you can have your opinion, but not everyone that lives here prefers high-density communities and shouldn’t they have the right to object?

      • Chris Pelly

        As a resident of Haw Creek following this issue, the writer should be aware the Haw Creek Community Association (HCCA) has provided solid reasons to oppose the rezoning as proposed. The buyer/developer is purchasing property currently zoned to allow up to 49 homes. Not satisfied, the developer wants a Conditional Rezoning to increase this to 95 homes. A Condtional Rezoning requires City Council approval and the terms are negotiable. Crazy as it sounds, the surrounding affected Haw Creek community wants to be part of those negociations.
        As HCCA has maintained from the beginning, our goal is not to stop new housing on this site. We recognize our neighborhood has a part to play in addressing the citywide need for more housing. We also recognize City Council’s voting record is decidedly pro-housing and opposing any development on this site would not be a winning hand.

        Instead, we have called for an equitable approach. If the developer wants support for rezoning to allow higher density, he must give something of value back to the community. Based on resident input, these conditions are pedestrian improvements, expanded buffers, and preservation of the six-acre forest on the east end of the 27-acre property.

        HCCA believes this proposed compromise–rezoning approved if community conditions are met–strikes a balance between private property rights and community needs. If a deal can be struck, it will require Haw Creek residents accept the rezoning and the denser development that will follow. For the developer, It will require fewer homes even though, to date, he has said they will not compromise on 95 homes.

        We believe a majority of City Council members want a compromise solution. For this reason our message to City Council is simple: Unless the developer is willing to compromise, please vote no on the proposed rezoning.

        Chris Pelly, President
        Haw Creek Community Association

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