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Cabin Creek Road neighbors implore county to block lodge

Denied a public hearing on a landowner’s plans to build a lodge and private club in rural Green River, residents of Cabin Creek Road implored Henderson County commissioners on Monday to step in and take a closer look at whether the request is “a loophole” that evades the intent of the county land-use code.

A year after dropping a rezoning request to permit a 20-room inn off of Cabin Creek Road, the landowner filed new development plans for a lodge and private club on a 4½-acre site. This time, the project does not require a rezoning. The use is permitted “by right” in the Rural Two Residential zone and authorization lies with the Technical Review Committee, the panel made up of officials from the NCDOT, the health department, emergency and fire services, Hendersonville water and sewer systems and county building and stormwater offices. It does not go before the Planning Board or Board of Commissioners, county Zoning Administrator Matt Champion said. The TRC was scheduled to review the request on Tuesday after the Lightning’s print deadline.

Landowner Lark Elliot said in plans drawn by Hendersonville landscape architect Hunter Marks that Tuxedo Falls would be made up of a 10,000-square-foot lodge, a restaurant and bar, pool, hiking trails and outdoor education.

Marks said the development would support summer camps and other community businesses.

“The original plan was to rezone it for an inn and the problem is in the county there’s no provision for an inn,” he said last week. “The only thing that it has is a hotel so we would have had to rezone to community commercial and that just didn’t fly. (Cabin Creek Road residents) weren’t comfortable with that and I can understand that. And so we’re going back with club-lodge, which is by right. You can do that by right in our zoning.”

‘A loophole she’s pursuing’

“I don’t think that the plan has really changed,” Ben Dowling, who lives next to the site of the proposed lodge, said in an interview. “I think that is a commercial loophole that she’s pursuing. It’s frustrating to me as an immediate owner who’s going to be impacted that my zoning is not protecting me and my county representation is really not interested in engaging whether this is a loophole or not.”

Corey McCraw, another neighbor, also urged commissioners to pause the project.

“Last year a land developer filed a rezoning request … to change 50 acres of wooded forests on Cabin Creek Road from residential to commercial, a plan to include an inn, restaurant, including a bar, and a parking lot big enough to hold nearly three dozen cars,” he said. When homeowners rose up to fight the commercial use, “the developer pulled the request to ensure it doesn’t go before this board. Instead, the developer decides to explore a loophole in the zoning regulation,” then renames the project and resubmits plans as a private lodge.

“The Green River community doesn’t want this development,” he said. “We are here asking for an intervention. Preserve the character and resources of the rural Green River community from this commercial development.”

Called Tuxedo Falls — tagline “An Escape into Nature” — the development would be reached by a private road of just under a quarter mile. Plans show 33 parking spaces and the clearing of three acres for the lodge and associated uses.
“Cabin Creek Club inspires connection with the natural world by providing a homebase where members can enjoy, explore, and protect the woodlands, streams, mountains, and countryside of Western North Carolina,” says mission statement submitted as part of the application, using an earlier name for the project. It would be organized as a nonprofit requiring membership to use the lodge and enjoy its activities. People would apply for membership and, once approved, pay an annual fee based on which amenities they want to use, the developer said.

The owners also said in their application they intend to encourage community involvement and support of local retailers.
“In addition to encouraging members to enroll children in local summer camps to allow for their entry at the Club, the Club may arrange for local summer campers to experience the educational nature services available to members,” they said. “Additionally, to the extent possible, edible plants grown on-property could be made available to local farm-to-table restaurants. Finally, the Club will coordinate with local businesses to encourage patronage” of area stores and services.