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Ninth Avenue evolving to higher density

Ninth Avenue shows all the signs of an area in transition.


On Monday, the Hendersonville Planning Board in a split vote recommended that the City Council rezone three-quarters of an acre on the south side of the road to a more permissive residential use that would allow up to three duplexes.
Two blocks south, contractors have cut down trees and begun clearing a lot for a new 75,000-square-foot facility housing health sciences class for Wingate University and Blue Ridge Community College and for Pardee Hospital's cancer center. In July, Pardee bought a half-acre wooded lot at the southeast corner of Justus and Ninth, although hospital officials say they have no immediate plans for that.
Property owner Peter Contrastano requested the rezoning from medium- to high-density residential for three lots, each about a quarter acre, on the south side of Ninth Avenue across from Tebeau Drive.
Contrastano told the Planning Board that under the medium-density zone, the lots are non-conforming.
Planning Director Sue Anderson said the property owner could build a single-family home on each one, though it would be nonconforming, because under state law the city cannot deny a permit to the owner of a legally platted lot.
PeterContrastano4Peter Contrastano explains rezoning request to the Planning Board.The Planning Board recommended the rezoning on a 4-2 vote. Peter Hanley, Jay Thorndike, Steve Johnson and Robert Hogan voted in favor while Ben Pace and Raymond Mundy voted no.
The rezoning would allow a duplex on each of the lots because they meet the minimum square footage of 10,000 square feet — a quarter acre.
"Our lots are an average of 65 percent of the minimum size for an R-15 lot" under the current zoning designation, Contrastano said in an email answer to questions from the Lightning. "The frontage for each of our undersized lots is well below the 85-foot minimum for R-15. Since on-street parking is not allowed in front of the lots, a dwelling, parking for two cars (ideally covered for at least one), and a driveway need to be accommodated. It would be difficult to adhere to R-15 rules to fit in all required elements. The need to remove essentially all of the wooded features of the lots also would be the result."
He said the higher density (R-6) zoning is reasonable because it makes the lots conforming to city code, because the lots behind it (on Connor Avenue) are zoned R-6 and because "a residential use for the lots aligns with the objectives of the Comprehensive Plan."
"Other than an allowed residential use, we have no specific development plans in mind at this time," he added.
Lot clearing is under way for the new health sciences building on Sixth Avenue at Oak Street.Lot clearing is under way for the new health sciences building on Sixth Avenue at Oak Street.Three residents of the area spoke against the request, saying more traffic is not compatible with the existing heavy pedestrian use, particularly by children walking to and from Hendersonville middle, elementary and high schools.
Gail Works, who lives on North Oak Street, said rezoned property is currently an urban preserve, home to "25 resident animals," including a pair of rare Eastern bluebirds.
"I'm heart-broken about it," she said. "What concerns me is they bought this land to make money and they're going to make money."
Jackie Brodie also spoke against the rezoning, saying increased traffic will be harmful.