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New requests could result in 2,121 rental units in pipeline

Whether they all rise out of the ground is an open question but Hendersonville could see a proliferation of apartments, condos and other dwellings that begins to close a rental unit shortage that a study described as one of the most critical in the region.

The city Planning Board voted unanimously last week to recommend a rezoning to allow 322 apartments in an eight-building apartment complex on Lakewood Road where it meets Francis Road. Already home to the Cedar Terrace and Cedar Bluff apartments and the 291-acre Universal at Lakewood complex — currently under construction — the area between Highland Square and I-26 is also the site of the proposed Cottages at Mastermind, a 99-unit condo development on Francis Road already approved by the City Council. Meanwhile, at its February meeting, the Planning Board is expected to take up a rezoning request from a Washington, D.C., developer to permit 185 apartments on Greenville Highway south of Brookdale Avenue.

A planning staff analysis of the Lakewood rezoning request noted that the Bowen Housing Needs Assessment for Western North Carolina had shown that Henderson County had an estimated rental housing shortage of 1,650 to 2,008 units for families with incomes between 50 percent or less and 120 percent of area median income (AMI). Planners noted that the rental housing gap for that income level does not account for a gap in available units for households earning more than 120 percent of AMI.

Although there’s precious little workforce housing in the mix, there will be plenty of rental dwellings in the pipeline if they all get permitted and built. The Hendersonville City Council has approved 1,614 units over the past three years and could approve 507 more if it authorizes the Lakewood Road and Greenville Highway rezoning requests — for a total of 2,121 dwellings.

Lakewood development includes daycare center


The Planning Board on Thursday spent more than two hours listening to public comments and a description of the plans from the developer, a civil engineer and attorney before endorsing a rezoning from industrial to urban residential zoning.

The development on 60 acres would also include a 6,000-square-foot daycare center, 530 parking spaces, a clubhouse and pool, a connection to the city’s proposed Clear Creek greenway and a separate walking trail spur along a stream known as Allen Branch. The developer plans to keep 58 percent of the 911 trees on the site, plant 244 trees throughout the improved development and 140 in a floodplain restoration area. The developer also plans to construct a roundabout at the 90-degree corner where Francis and Lakewood roads meet.

The city ought to seize the chance “to put this amount of density this close to town on an existing and also proposed greenway,” developer Travis Fowler told the Planning Board. “It’s a large floodplain that could be forested. It’s a beautiful stream. I think that there is a very unique opportunity to allow people to live in a community that would allow them to walk to town but also jump right on that greenway and walk to Clear Creek. Let’s consider putting as high density development as you can that is adjacent to these natural resources without damaging those natural resources.”

Although they praised plans for conservation and reforestation of floodplain land, Planning Board members expressed concern about the number of cars new development is generating. When chair Jim Robertson asked about the narrow and winding Francis and Lakewood roads and a one-lane bridge on Nix Road, the developer’s attorney responded that a state Supreme Court precedent had barred local government from requiring developers to pay for road improvements beyond the immediate area of their project.

NCDOT has tried in the past to force developers to make “offsite improvements but unsuccessfully,” Brian Gulden said. “We don’t have any condemnation power and if the city or NCDOT decides not to help us, we couldn’t do it.”

The Lakewood rezoning request goes next to the City Council, which could take it up at its Feb. 2 meeting.