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City OKs 67-home subdivision on Howard Gap

The Hendersonville City Council approved a rezoning on Tuesday that will allow a developer to build 67 homes on Howard Gap Road east of Nix Road.
The 3-2 council vote came over the objections of neighbors who said the development would create traffic problems and make flooding worse on Clear Creek, which runs south of the development through what is now a farm field.
The property owner, Mountain Bean Growers Inc., asked for the rezoning and annexation into the city so it can provide sewer for the project, called the Cottages at Cypress Run.
Mike Anderson, the engineer for the developer, told the council that the builder would have to prove to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that the subdivision would not cause worse flood conditions that exist today.
“We are not allowed to have any negative impact through the local regulation and through our permit process with FEMA,” Anderson said.
Council member Jerry Smith wasn’t buying it.
“I just can’t help but agree, regardless of what FEMA says, it just looks like this development goes too far into the floodplain and it’s going to push water somewhere else,” he said. “Unlike Publix, which used existing square footage, we are now adding square footage.”
Councilman Jeff Miller said if the city would not accept FEMA’s regulations, it would have trouble approving many developments.
“If we’re not going to accept FEMA’s standards, where do we go with that? If we are now saying that we’re not going to accept what FEMA says in certain areas, what do we do, where do we go?” he said. “I can’t as a member of the elected council just blow off FEMA. I have a hard time with that.”
Yet Miller joined Smith in voting no on the rezoning application.
Mayor Barbara Volk and mayor pro tem Ron Stephens said as much as they’d like to preserve farmland, affordable housing close to the city was also a priority. The developer plans to build craftsman-style cottages of 1,400 to 1,800 square feet that would sell "in the $275,000 range."
“There’s a huge demand for that,” Stephens said. “While we want to protect farmland, there’s an amazing amount of demand for housing in this place. We’ve got to balance those interests, too.”
Volk pointed out that the property, now in the county’s jurisdiction, is currently zoned residential, not agricultural.
“I think I would have more problems with it if it was not already zoned residential,” she said. “It’s also fairly close to the city and I’d rather see it there than even further away so people would have to commute. No matter what happens there’s going to be more traffic on roads.”
The developer has one more stop before stop before the requests are approved. Because the council voted 3-2 for the annexation, the council must vote a second time on that application. A second reading would require only a 3-2 vote to make the approval final.