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Planning board OKs Horse Shoe Farm master plan

Rick Livingston appreciates that the French Broad River is cleaner today than it was years ago.

“When I was kid you never thought of swimming in the French Broad River,” he said. “You never thought of eating the fish. We are finally to the point in the last few years where I feel like that river is being cleaned up. It’s decent now. I want to leave it better for my kids and grandkids than when I found it when I was born here.”

Livingston was addressing the developer who is hoping to put in 198 rental units on the scenic Horse Shoe Farm property. Livingston was one of two Henderson County Planning Board members to vote no last week on a master plan developer John Turchin submitted for the 85-acre property. With the Planning Board’s blessing, Turchin may go forward with plans for the development, which would be built in several phases.
After the Board of Commissioners turned down his proposed mixed-use development of 225 residential units in December, Turchin submitted a new site plan that does not require a rezoning. He proposes to build 58 duplexes and 27 triplexes with walking trails, a restaurant and wellness center.
Before joining Bruce Hatfield in voting no, Livingston said he needed to know more about the on-site sewage treatment facility.
“No. 1 is the wastewater issue,” he said. “It’s possible that what you have proposed is completely OK but I haven’t seen enough or heard enough to convince me of this. I would like to see more on how what is planned and that it won’t be contaminating that river.”
Planning Board chairman Steve Dozier asked Turchin’s civil engineer, Mark Brooks, about the chances state environmental regulators would approve the drip-field wastewater treatment system.
“I think they’re good,” he said. “We’ll essentially be meeting groundwater standards coming out of the back of the treatment plant. Advances in waste water treatment make it where that’s not an impractical thing to do.”
When a Planning Board member asked him if there was a treatment facility like the developer plans nearby, Brooks said there is one in Leicester.
“It’s in a completely enclosed barn, which is what they have in mind here,” he said. “If you drove by it you would never know you’re looking at a treatment plant.”
After several residents during a public hearing mentioned discharging effluent into the French Broad River, Brooks corrected that. The system would not dump wastewater into the river, he said.

High-rent district

Like the previous development, the new version of Sanctuary at Eagle’s Nest would offer rental units at an upscale price of $3 to $4 per square foot — about $4,000 month for a 1,000-square-foot unit.
Turchin plans to offer leases from as little as one year and up to 10 years. The rent is all inclusive, he added, covering utilities, insurance, yard maintenance, wellness center and one meal a day at an on-site dining facility. When a Planning Board member asked what would happen if he could not rent the units at that rate, he said could convert to a sales model and still make a profit.
“We’re still trying to do a quality project,” he said. “Nothing’s changed in concept of what we’re doing other than we’re conforming to the county policy. This project is costing $50 million and we’re going to create a bunch of jobs and that money’s coming into the community. There is a need for this type of product, market studies say there is, and there’s a pent-up demand for a product like this.”
Residents of surrounding neighborhoods raised many of the same objections they had about Turchin’s first development application, citing traffic, noise, pollution and property depreciation.
Tamarac resident Matt Matteson urged the Planning Board to carefully scrutinize the proposed treatment plant.
“The wastewater system probably should have had a little more detail,” he said. “I would offer that you go up to Leicester. The drip system is relatively new, it’s new to Henderson County. I think you folks need to take some time and consider how that’s going to happen.”
Barbara Lea, an adjoining property owner, said the rental units would be incompatible with the surrounding land-use of owner-occupied homes.
“The first development was turned down because it had an apartment-like units,” she said. “It’s still all going to be rental and it could be 400 people. It changes the nature of the entire area when you go from ownership to rental. It becomes very transient.”
“I’m very concerned about the noise level and light pollution,” said Chris Ellis. “We live in a very quiet community. I’m exceedingly anxious about getting out to South Rugby from Nelson Road. I don’t see an advantage to the community to use up every nice piece of farm land and building high density development to reduce our quality of life. All it’s going to do is make it more hazardous for the future.”
The Planning Board approved the master plan with the condition that the developer add a left turn lane into the subdivision entrance as part of phase 1. Turchin will have to come back to the Planning Board for approval of each phase, the planning staff said. No construction can start until state environmental regulators OK the wastewater treatment plan.