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Mills River board OKs expansion that has split High Vista homeowners

Drawing shows duplexes and single family homes in a proposed expansion of High Vista. Drawing shows duplexes and single family homes in a proposed expansion of High Vista.

MILLS RIVER — The Mills River Town Council on Thursday upheld a decision by the town planning board that OK’d a development plan that would add 42 units at the High Vista subdivisions, including 18 duplexes.
More than two dozen members of High Vista's homeowners association organized to fight the expansion and hired an attorney who presented their appeal during the town council meeting Thursday night. The Town Board voted unanimously to uphold the Planning Board’s October decision to approve the plans by High Vista Finance, of Jacksonville, Florida, for the new dwellings on 33 acres between High Vista Drive and Country Club Road.
Town attorney Sharon Alexander told the town council it had limited authority to overrule the Planning Board as long as the board had adhered to the land-use ordinance requirements.

"Our purpose is to look at the airplane view, to see if we followed everything we were supposed to follow," Councilman Roger Snyder said, restating the attorney's advice. "So that’s all that we have to decide. We really don’t care whether there’s a lawsuit or a feud or whatever you want to call it."

Wayne Carland made the motion, which passed unanimously, to uphold the Planning Board's Oct. 2 decision.

"They went through the correct process," he said. "Therefore, I think the council should stand by what they voted for."

High Vista Finance and the homeowners who support the new development say the expansion is needed to generate cash to preserve the golf course, an amenity that attracts people to the subdivision and raises home values.
Opponents, who are in a dispute with High Vista Finance over covenants that govern land use in the development, urged the Town Council to kill the project. Twenty-seven homeowners signed a letter appealing the Planning Board's decision to authorize the development.
The request has split the community, with golfers in support of the expansion.
Failure to approve the request, wrote Katherine and Tom Davis, “will likely negatively impact the Highland Vista Golf Course. This course is important to the High Vista community. Having a golf course here benefits the broader Mills River community. … We note that every ad we have seen advertising property got sale in High Vista prominently mentions the golf course here. That is strong evidence that having a golf course here enhances the value of the property, thus enhaving tax revenues for the town.”
High Vista Finance proposed a higher density development that was blocked by a vote of the homeowners association. Now the developer has proposed an expansion with as little impact as possible, Nigel Strickland wrote.
“Should the golf course fail, I believe it will cause the failure of our clubhouse, tennis courts and swimming pool, all of which are supported by about half the residents,” he said. “The resulting failure will result in a ghost town center in our community, drastically pulling down property values and the attractiveness of living in High Vista.”