© 2024 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Your source for information and inspiration in Western North Carolina.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Developer seeks to postpone City Council vote on sprawling Haw Creek development

Site of proposed Haw Creek development project.
Laura Lee/BPR
Site of proposed Haw Creek development project.

The developer for a planned 95-unit housing project in East Asheville’s Haw Creek neighborhood has asked the City Council to delay a vote on the proposal originally scheduled for next week.

The 27-acre project, “The Meadows at Haw Creek,” has ignited opposition from community members who have raised concerns about traffic, pedestrian safety and environmental conservation. Advocates for the project say that it would bring much-needed residential options to a growing city in the midst of a housing crisis.

Attorney Derek Allen, who represents the developer, L.B. Jackson and Company, said in an email to BPR on Thursday that the decision to ask for a postponement came after a meeting of stakeholders last week. Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer and City Council Member Sage Turner hosted the gathering, where members of the Haw Creek Community Association and city staff shared their concerns.

“At the recent in-person meeting with that group, additional concerns were expressed by the neighbors, and new responsive suggestions made by the development team and staff,” Allen said. “We are currently working on exploring those ideas with engineers and members of the design team. We would like to have any new changes engineered and resume our meeting with the neighborhood representatives and staff to discuss them before the project is considered by the city council.”

Allen said the vote is now likely to happen on June 11, the earliest possible date on the City Council’s agenda.

Manheimer confirmed the request in an email.

“The developer has requested a continuance, and I will let them describe for you the purpose for requesting the continuance,” Manheimer told BPR News.

The project at 767 New Haw Creek Road has been the subject of heated debate for months. At a four-hour city Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on March 20, more than 200 residents signed up to speak out about the Meadows at Haw Creek proposal.

Due to time constraints, only 17 residents were ultimately able to speak; the majority said they were against the proposal in its current form.

At the March 20 meeting, the Asheville Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend that the City Council approve the developer’s conditional rezoning request. If the City Council votes to accept the recommendation in June, the project will be allowed to move forward.

Chris Pelly, president of the Haw Creek Community Association and former Asheville City Council member, described the April 11 meeting as a “good, constructive conversation.” Pelly said he and other members of the community are hopeful that a compromise can be achieved that preserves a six-acre forest on the east side of the property, among other objectives.

“[The developer] has proposed 95 homes for the site, and the community has said, ‘Okay, but we need to protect this six-acre forest that will become increasingly valuable as time goes by, because it’s kind of an urban oasis,’” Pelly told BPR in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.

A notice Thursday from Pelly to members of the Haw Creek Community Association obtained by BPR states that the developer’s latest proposal was “wholly insufficient” on the issues of forest preservation and the number of housing units, but that “progress was made on other fronts.” The notice described an agreement on pedestrian improvements to link The Meadows at Haw Creek property with the new sidewalk ending at Bell Road and on the western side buffers.

“City Council will vote this Tuesday on the developer’s request for continuance until June 11th. It is likely this will be approved in order to provide him time to refine his plans. As we learn more about redesign proposals, we will share. Our hope remains a mutually agreeable outcome,” the notice stated.

In a phone interview Thursday, Allen, the lawyer for the property developer, said his client understands some of the concerns but that the need for housing in the area is critical.

"Our area is absolutely starved for units," Allen told BPR. "And we hear about the 'missing middle.' Every single study that I've seen, when they talk about missing middle, they number one suggestion is townhome units and homes on smaller lots. And that's exactly what this project is trying to deliver, is those two things."

Felicia Sonmez is a reporter covering growth and development for Blue Ridge Public Radio.