Civic

Town Approves Nearly 200-Unit Development

Adam Mitchell presents plans to finish the Walnut Springs townhouse development off the Old Marshall Hwy to the board.

WoodfinA development interrupted by the 2008 economic and housing market downturn will continue, say the Woodfin Commissioners at their monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, October 20th. 

Developers Adam Mitchell and Dan Mason said they would be continuing the development, started back in 2008, and would build out the townhouse community in three phases, which would have nearly 200 units when fully completed. 

Council had very few questions of the developers who had the blessings of the Woodfin Planning and Zoning Board, but several residents wished to speak on the heels of the developer.

Resident Richard Henning was concern about the additional traffic coming from the expansion of Walnut Springs with only one exit. He was also concerned over the speed with which vehicles passed on Old Marshall Highway, which connects Walnut Springs to Riverside Drive and Weaverville Highway. He also told to the board he knew the development of more homes was a possibility. Several other residents also spoke about their concerns.

Mitchell said that before going to Phase III, they would be happy to revisit the need for another entrance/exit to the community.

With that, Mayor Jerry VeHaun opened the public hearing, where no one spoke, commenters spoke during the developers’ presentation. The hearing closed just a few minutes after it opened with the council voting immediately to approve the venture unanimously. 

The news, unwelcome to some of the nineteen homeowners who have lived in Walnut Springs since about 2012, voiced their displeasure after the vote saying the town and developers had been unresponsive to their inquiries about the project. Vice Mayor Debbie Giezentanner said the town, going forward, would keep them apprised of any development or questions from the residents of Walnut Springs.

Before the Walnut Springs subdivision approval, the board of commissioners also heard from the town’s auditor Nancy Lux of Ray, Bumgarner, Kingshill & Associates, on the town’s latest audit, which came back with the highest approval recognized. They also decided to table a request for a rezoning for 119 New Life Drive from R-21 to R-10, which would allow short-term rental even though the owner had gotten written approval from all of their neighbors. 

“I do have some concerns about doing changes in zoning for specific reasons,” said Giezentanner. She went on to call it “spot zoning” and asked the board to set the issue aside until the new town planner (see story page 5) had a chance to review the zoning and make a recommendation. Giezentanner’s request found agreement with the other commissioners who joined her motions to postpone a vote until January. 

Commissioners also voted to work with First Horizon Bank (formerly Capital Bank) to finance the $3 million in bonds residents of the town vote to borrow back in 2016 for the greenway/blueway project. In addition, the town voted on an amendment to the budget for 2021 and new health insurance that gives town employees two options to choose from, including a premium and an employee contribution with higher deductibles but lower monthly premiums.

They then heard department reports in which the town learned that the NC Department of Transportation had finally released funds for the greenway project and now considers the French Broad section of the project and the Beaverdam to be all one project for funding purposes.