Woodfin – The Town of Woodfin appears to be headed away from its reputation as a development-friendly town as new members of the Board of Commissioners were seated at its Feb. meeting.
The board had two new commissioners installed at the meeting, along with three new commissioners elected in November and installed in January. Judy Butler and Elizabeth Ervin filled seats on the board vacated by longtime Commissioner Jim Angel, who resigned due to health reasons and Theresa Stoker, whose seat was voided due to a violation of COVID rules governing remote meetings.
Two moves by the board signaled policy change during the meeting.
Steep Slope Ordinance
First, during a public hearing on a steep slope ordinance, the regulation was made more restrictive than Buncombe County’s steep slope ordinance, from which town staff says it was taken. Commissioner Eric Edgerton made a motion to amend the law to trigger the new rules at a lower 20 degrees, instead of 30 degrees like Buncombe. Also, as part of the motion, he asked for a geotechnical report to be required at 35 percent instead of 40 percent. This new ordinance would apply to all property above 2,200 feet in elevation.
Woodfin Town Project Manager Luke Williams told the commissioners decreasing the slope from 30 degrees to 20 degrees would increase the cost of building. “I’m just concerned about the smaller properties and adding additional cost making housing less obtainable,” said Williams. Commissioner Jim McAllister said, “I hear you. I acknowledge that I’m not as concerned about the additional cost.”
One man in attendance who had already spoken about his pending application asked again if his application would be included in these new rules. Adriene Isenhower, Town Planner, said no, they would not.
McAllister seconded after Edgerton’s motion, but Commissioner Ronnie Lunsford had questions about the move’s effect on lowering the threshold. After some discussion, the ordinance was passed unanimously.
In another vote by the town, commissioners voted not to approve a rezoning request, from community shopping to light industry, for a three-story storage facility off of Blueberry Hill Road. This happened even after the developer said they would give up all other uses under light industry, effectively making it a community shopping zoning that allowed for storage facilities. The landowner, Glinda Weinert, also said she reached a deal with three residents whose property was adjacent to the property with the understanding that they would sign a binding agreement only allowing the storage facility usage.
McAllister said he was against it when he was on the planning and zoning board and that he had seen nothing to change his mind about the project. He made a motion to deny the rezoning, but the motion failed for lack of a second. Commissioner Lunsford then made a motion to rezone the property, but it too failed for lack of a second. McAllister then made another motion not to accept the request with additional language that said the project didn’t conform to Woodfin’s mission. That motion passed 5-1, with Lunsford being the dissenting vote.
As Weinert left the meeting, she told one resident who spoke against the rezoning, “I think you’ll get exactly what you need, ma’am.” The resident replied, “Thanks for your threats, ma’am.”
In yet another development approval, the board approved a preliminary plat for Phase I near Goodman Road. The original plan called for over 300 units, now planned for 176 lots over 90 acres, which is about 2.64 lots per acre and is zoned Mountain Village.
The zoning would allow for up to eight units per acre. A commissioner wanted to know if construction vehicles would access the property via Goodman Road, but the developer said no. Both accesses to the property were off of