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Senior apartments, round 2, off to rocky start

LAUREL PARK — Nine months year after the Hendersonville City Council shot down its request for senior apartments on U.S. 64, a developer is shopping the idea in Laurel Park.

The proposed Sunshine Retirement Living development would be on 7.8 acres on the north side of U.S. 64 east of Dellwood Terrace and across from Glasgow Lane. The Hendersonville City Council rejected a rezoning request for the apartment buildings and mixed commercial use last August. The developer, Curry Investments of Bend, Ore., is now pursuing voluntary annexation into Laurel Park and a rezoning to allow the project.
The Laurel Park Town Council on Tuesday formally declared that the application for annexation satisfies state law then scheduled a rezoning hearing for Sept. 18. The council allowed for the three-month delay because it also sent the rezoning request back to the Planning Board, which voted unanimously on May 8 to recommend denial of a rezoning request and land-use code text amendment. Sunshine Retirement Living was asking for a building height of 50 feet, 15 feet more than the town code allows. Since then, the applicant has withdrawn that request, reconfigured the layout to move the west wing of the community 30 feet farther away from Brevard Road and redesigned the exterior “to incorporate a more residential look and feel which fits better with the character of the surrounding neighborhood.”
If the past is prologue, the changes are unlikely to change minds among neighboring homeowners. Residents who rallied to oppose the project when the land was in Hendersonville’s extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction are poised to come out in force in Laurel Park, too.
Glen Englram, who lives near the site, asked the council to change the meeting time from morning to evening so more people could attend.
“I think he makes a valid point,” Councilwoman Nancy McKinley. “I think we should try to be accommodating as we can to working people.”
In a report on the rezoning and annexation request, consultant Josh Freeman, who serves as town planner, pointed out that the development would be consistent with the council’s goal to encourage light commercial development along U.C. 64.
“If you’re going to grow, of all the places this is the location,” Freeman said, citing the availability of water and sewer, transportation and emergency services. “It’s a significant policy decision to make.”
Planning Board members on May 8 expressed concerns about the building height and the compatibility with surrounding uses. Board chairman Dave Adams “said he liked the project but he did not like jumping across property to change the town’s corporate limit,” according to minutes of the meeting.
Planning Board members asked what would happen if Laurel Park turned down the request.
Thomas Bahrman, an attorney representing Sunshine Retirement Living, said the owners would “likely continue to hold the property, because they view this area as a path to progress between the two municipalities.”