Will MHO follow its mission?

Mountain Housing Opportunities has proposed building a three-story, 64-unit apartment complex in the middle of a single-family neighborhood in small-town Waynesville. While they have met the letter of Waynesville zoning law, they are not meeting the spirit or intent of their own mission statement, which is to “to build and improve homes, neighborhoods, communities … lives.”

It grieves me that an organization that prides itself on smart-growth development and community partnerships would so seriously discount citizen concerns about this project. One of the primary tenets of smart growth involves encouraging community and stakeholder collaboration and creating developments that respond to a community’s own sense of how and where it wants to grow.

When 75 area residents attend the only opportunity for public comment, and all oppose the project because of the negative impacts on our community and quality of life, perhaps the project should be reassessed. This is not a high-density neighborhood; it is made up of single-family homes and some duplexes, many on large lots. The building as proposed would be significantly out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood, would obstruct views and would have a negative impact on property values.

Mountain Housing Opportunities offers many alternative site designs—including affordable single-family homes, condos or townhouses—that would fit much better with the existing community. We ask them to do the right thing and come up with a different development proposal that fits the character of our neighborhood and town of Waynesville.

— David and Hanna Goss

Editor’s note: MHO Executive Director Scott Debman responds: Sixty-four senior citizens will benefit from safe, attractive apartments in a convenient walkable location, 400 feet from Main Street immediately behind a retirement home in downtown Waynesville. Three town boards unanimously approved our plans for an energy-efficient and environmentally responsible building design that uses less land than more expensive single-family home construction. The apartments will be privately owned and professionally managed, will pay full property taxes, and will bring several million dollars into Waynesville in wages, contracts and purchases. To the 19 people who spoke against our plans, and to all residents of Waynesville, our senior residents will be good neighbors. Your mother, your aunt or you may choose to live here—and we hope you will, if the time comes that you no longer choose to maintain a single-family home and yard. We ask that you welcome 64 senior citizens into your neighborhood.

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