By the time you read this, the 2021 elections will be over and done, so there is no motive to try and sway the elections in Woodfin or Weaverville by my writing this commentary. I’m only trying for a thoughtful analysis of what the North Buncombe area is facing. Both towns have issues with overdevelopment.
Let’s be honest, Buncombe County is filling up and south Asheville is definitely nearing capacity. Oh, there will be more development there, but places to put developments are becoming relatively scarce. West Buncombe is becoming the same way unless you’re out in deep Leicester where there are still large family tracts of land. But as parents pass away they leave their families with attractive tracts worth millions. While dad might not sell the farm, the children who have moved on from farm life surely will.
East Buncombe has property, but mainly in the Swannanoa Valley, which is pretty well developed and unless you are selling to people who have winter homes in warmer states and can have summer homes on the sides of the mountains overlooking the Swannanoa Valley, those homes might be difficult to access in the winter.
So that brings us to North Buncombe with its rolling hills. From Newfound Gap in the west to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the east and Sam’s Gap to the north in Madison County, the area, what’s not already been developed, is prime for construction.
That brings us to the two municipalities capable of supplying what every development needs…water. In Woodfin, it’s the Woodfin Water District, which is a separate entity from the town, and it has been around since the 1920s and supplies water to Woodfin, areas of the northern part of the county and parts of Erwin Hills. They have their own resource in Reems Creek and buy water from Asheville when needed. The Town of Woodfin has had its issues with zoning, which brought out new candidates for this election. While I don’t know the outcome of the election at the time of this writing, you do now. Make of it what you will. Reelected candidates mean residents are happy with the course, while new faces could mean a new direction for the town’s development strategy.
Weaverville, whose council believes the future was bright for development with a $6.5 million expansion of their Ivy River water treatment plant, ended up with sticker shock as I wrote about a few weeks ago, with the new price tag of over $13 million. Add on top of that a new group, SaveIvyRiver.com, whose members are opposed to any additional water above the current 1.5 million gallons per day (GPD) be taken out of the Ivy. According to engineers hired by the town, doubling the plants’ water outtake to three million would only lower the river level by an inch. But between the added cost of expansion, which engineers say continues to rise until a contract is signed and a possible legal battle running up legal fees, does the town council have the will to continue the expansion? Most of the council members seem to be in favor of the water treatment expansion, no matter the cost.
With the recent annexation request by a developer of Weavervegas LLC of 25 acres, it’s sure that it will not take many more years for the current Weaverville plant to hit max capacity. And keep in mind land is not getting any cheaper by no means.
As I look out my window at the surrounding mountains, dotted with color, it’s not hard to see the attraction of the area and while I live in south Madison County, it won’t be long until this development invades the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge.” At some point, east Tennessee will become too attractive for me to refuse the call to her rolling hills unless development gets there before I do.