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Fletcher says no thanks to Tap Root annexation

The proposed Tap Root residential development looks so much like a city that it ought to be in a city, Henderson County Commissioner Bill Lapsley says.

“It’s clearly a very dense project,” he said. “When you look at River Stone, which is across the street, there’s 500 and some houses there. My view on these type of projects is that’s what I call an urban development and when you get so many people packed into a tight area, they necessarily demand more urban-like city services, like police protection, more ambulance calls, more risk of fire problems.”
The Board of Commissioners is expected to take up in June a rezoning request to permit 546 houses and 532 townhomes on 320 acres of the former Tap Root dairy farm.
“If the project is approved we’re creating an urban area and if they do in fact need urban services then they ought to be provided by a city or a town that routinely provides and the closest one is Fletcher,” Lapsley said.
With that in mind, Lapsley asked Fletcher Town Manager Mark Biberdorf if he would poll council members to gauge their interest in annexing the 300-acre site. “Commissioner Lapsley believes the urban nature of the proposed development and its proximity to Fletcher makes it more conducive to being part of a municipality,” Biberdorf said in a memo to council. “He further shared that he would consider supporting the project with a conditional approval if it were being annexed into the town.”
Annexation appears unlikely. Council members remained silent when they received Biberdorf’s report during their regular meeting Monday night and so far they’ve been unenthusiastic about the prospect of taking in the land on Butler Bridge Road.
“The information that was conveyed to us was that there was a possibility that the county might place that as a contingency in approving the project,” Mayor Rod Whiteside said in an interview Tuesday. “In other words, they would approve it if the town of Fletcher annexed. That’s not anything we’ve received officially. That was just a discussion that came up.”
A development that size, Biberdorf told the council, would be inconsistent with the town’s land development code, “which seeks to steer density toward the core center area of town.” In a cost evaluation, he projected that the development when complete would generate $607,950 a year in property taxes. Public works and garbage collection would require $498,800 in new equipment plus annual operating costs of $182,250. The police cost was put at $217,196 a year plus $156,000 for four new cruisers.
“That’s one of the issues that’s come up previously as it relates to annexation,” Whiteside said. “That is, in general, services (to homes) outweigh any tax dollars that come in from the property tax. We have no official position at this point because it’s not an issue that’s before us at this point.”
Lapsley said he had heard last week that council members responded coolly to the annexation idea.
“The report I got was the town council really didn’t indicate any interest in seeing that area become part of Fletcher,” he said. “I’m a little disappointed but I respect their position.”
Although he insisted that he remains undecided on the Tap Root rezoning request, Lapsley suggested that the plans may be too urban.
“Even though municipalities are part of county government, the county is really geared toward dealing with the unincorporated area, the rural area of the county,” he said. “The county’s not really focused on providing urban services. So when you get a big development like River Stone and potentially Tap Root, here we go, the county is faced with more urban-related issues and problem. I just don’t know that we’re geared up to handle that sort of thing.”