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332-home development on Clear Creek Road advances

The site plan for the 332-home Clear Creek Road project shows townhomes in 29 buildings on the east side of the road and the single-family subdivision on the west side. [WGLA ENGINEERING MASTER PLAN] The site plan for the 332-home Clear Creek Road project shows townhomes in 29 buildings on the east side of the road and the single-family subdivision on the west side. [WGLA ENGINEERING MASTER PLAN]

A close-in development that could result in 332 homes on Clear Creek Road at I-26 moved a step closer to reality when the Hendersonville Planning Board unanimously recommended zoning approval.

 

The developer, Clear Creek Investment Group, is seeking to rezone 72 acres on either side of the road from business zoning to planned residential. The property is surrounded by Henderson County residential and industrial zoning, city highway business, medium intensity and low intensity residential. Its closest neighbors are Cumberland Village, a senior residential neighborhood off Balfour Road; Carolina Village and a rock quarry.

Plans call for 142 townhomes on the east side of Clear Creek Road and 190 single-family dwellings on the west side. Clear Creek Investment Group partners are Ken Jackson, the Asheville developer involved in the unsuccessful Tap Root Farms, and Bob Grimsley, a childhood friend of Jackson’s who is a commercial developer in Pennsylvania. Although some residents of Carolina Village, Cumberland Village and Hyder Farm Road have raised questions about the rezoning, the opposition has been less robust than the outcry triggered by the 900-unit Tap Root development on Butler Bridge Road.

‘Shortage of new housing’

Grimsley and Jackson said in an interview Monday that the project aims to provide new housing in a market where inventory has shrunk dramatically.

“We feel like it’s a neighborhood that will be very popular with young people (and) working people as well as with retirees,” Grimsley said. “There seems to be a real shortage of new housing.”

The developers dialed back the size after opponents raised concerns about density and traffic during a neighborhood compatibility meeting on July 10.

“We heard the input from the community meeting, we met with folks at Carolina Village and Cumberland Village,” Grimsley said. “The concern we heard is it was too many homes there.”

As a result, they reduced the number of single-family lots to 190, from 227, and the number of townhome units to 142, from 150.

Grimsley and Jackson said they agree with the community that cars and trucks already go too fast on Clear Creek Road. They said they plan to ask the NCDOT to consider reducing the speed limit from 45 to 35 mph. A traffic impact analysis completed for the developer and reviewed by the city’s traffic engineers recommended right turn lanes and a center left turn lane into both sides of the project. The study showed traffic generated by the residents “would not have any negative impact on capacity” of Clear Creek Road, Grimsley said.

Will Buie, the engineer for the project, said the development would respond to a housing need.

“The supply of homes under $400,000 is critically low,” he said. He cited a second quarter real estate report showing that of 698 homes listed in Henderson County, only 30 percent were priced under $400,000.

The Clear Creek group plans to design and engineer the project and install roads, water and sewer lines and other infrastructure then sell lots to developers who agree to build to the specifications of price point, square footage and amenities.

Single-family homes would range in size from 1,600 to 1,900 square feet and start at about $350,000. Townhomes would be 1,500 to 1,800 square feet and start in mid 200s, Buie told the Planning Board.

“If approved this fall, we would anticipate infrastructure and sitework start spring of 2020 and vertical construction late fall or early 2021,” he said. “Two years from now you might see first residents move in.”

 

‘It’s a dangerous, curvy mountain road’

Residents who live near proposed development brought up traffic, wildlife, the number of homes and the projected price.

“I’m concerned about the density and more the condition of Clear Creek Road as it stands now,” said Jack Tate, who lives off Howard Gap Road. When he moved to Hendersonville in 1992, “the Clear Creek Connector was under consideration and then were was the Balfour Parkway. There’s been nothing on Clear Creek Road to improve the safety. It’s a dangerous, curvy mountain road and I am becoming more and more reluctant to drive it. It’s about time we quit putting the cart before the horse and do something about that road.”

Carolina Village resident Sheri Metzger pointed out that the retirement development is also growing and will generate more traffic.

“One of my big concerns is the high density. I would recommend looking at a lower impact density than that,” she said. “We have two ways to get out: Four Seasons, and we all know what that’s like, and Clear Creek Road, so many people use Clear Creek Road to get out and get to town.”

A resident of Hyder Farm Road questioned how a development of $350,000 homes could provide housing for working families.

“How does this benefit the residents that are local besides raising my taxes, taking money out of my pocket? I know a lot of firefighters and police officers,” he said. “They couldn’t afford a $300,000 home. Is it really for us or is it for somebody to put a dollar in their pocket.”

Jackson and Grimsley said the townhome side and single-family subdivision would each have a “cabana-style” clubhouse with a pool. The development would also have sidewalks and overflow parking areas. One oddity is that the west side of Clear Creek Road is in the Clear Creek Elementary School District while the east side is in the Sugarloaf district. School system administrators told the developers that those lines could change if conditions warranted.

“We liked the proximity to downtown, the proximity to commercial areas and the fact that the property’s very accessible and also it’s large enough in size” to make affordable housing economically viable, Grimsley said of the property. “We feel like the highest and best use is a walkable single-family community and townhome development as opposed to the highway business use it’s currently zoned for.”

The development when built out would have a projected tax value of $102 million, he said, 10 times the current assessed value of $1.12 million.