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Crab Creek homeowners loaded for bear in fight against rezoning

Crab Creek homeowner Gayann O’Neal spoke against a proposed ministorage development at a Board of Commissioners meeting last week. [BILL MOSS/Hendersonville Lightning] Crab Creek homeowner Gayann O’Neal spoke against a proposed ministorage development at a Board of Commissioners meeting last week. [BILL MOSS/Hendersonville Lightning]


A three-month delay in a developer’s request to allow a 125,000-square-foot ministorage development in the Crab Creek community has given homeowners more time to mount an aggressive campaign against the rezoning.

Following models of civic engagement that have helped property owners turn back plans for a Duke Energy transmission line, the Balfour Parkway, an asphalt plant and other disruptive land uses, Crab Creek residents now have a nonprofit organization with an executive director, an attorney specializing in land-use cases, a website, a $60,000 budget and experts poised to testify against the plans.
Applicant Matthew Cooke is seeking a special-use permit to build the mini-storage units on 9½ acres in an R2R residential zone east of Camp Blue Star and west of Evans Road. Cooke’s site plan shows the buildout in four phases of 39,000, 51,000, 24,000 and 10,000 square feet, an office and a gated entrance.Crab Creek resident Fritz McPhail, who helped lead the opposition to a senior housing development on the site years ago, has offered $25,000 to stop the self-storage facility, pledging to match every dollar donated by his neighbors.
“Crab Creek is no place for strip commercial, which just spawns more strip commercial,” McPhail said in a news release. “This is the gateway to DuPont Forest. It’s got one of the highest concentrations of summer camps in the state. People pay dearly to live here. If the storage facility is built, millions of dollars in real estate could drop 10 percent in value, or more.”
Eight Crab Creek homeowners wearing bright pink “Stop Crab Creek Road Storage Facility” signs turned out for a meeting of the Board of Commissioners last week to speak against the project, even though the elected leaders have no authority in the case. Cooke is seeking a special-use permit from the Zoning Board of Adjustment, an appointed body whose decisions are appealable through the courts, not the Board of Commissioners. The Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to hear the request on July 28.
“We painfully understand that you our Board of Commissioners have no input, impact or interpretation of the zoning board’s autonomous decision,” Debbie Bell, who has lived at 571 Crab Creek Road for 47 years, told commissioners.
“In the last week we’ve spoken with hundreds of community residents. The consensus, with the exception of you, Commissioner Hill, is that no one understands the need, congruence nor value to be contributed by storage facility,” she said, singling out David Hill, who said later in the meeting that he opposes all zoning.
Bell submitted documents detailing traffic, water runoff and other reasons residents oppose the facility “on a nine-acre hayfield on a two-lane country road across from a residential development.”
Randy Doss, who lives across Crab Creek Road from the property, said adjoining parcels had been bought or optioned for more potential development that residents fear would also be commercial.
“This is the beginning of a vast commercial complex that’s entirely incompatible with our rural area,” he said. “Our chief concerns (include) destruction of our rural community, water pollution and public safety. As a community we all know that traffic on this stretch of Crab Creek moves way faster than it ever should.” For that reason the rural road is “no place to put a large commercial enterprise and certainly not a complex of commercial enterprises.”
“Putting a commercial development as large as the average Target store 5 miles into the countryside is incompatible with our rural residential area,” Rocio Borghini, who also lives across the road from the site, told commissioners. “It will devalue surrounding property such as my home. It will likely pollute Mud Creek, which empties into the French Broad, and it is unsafe for a variety of reasons.”
Borghini brandished a map showing 53 storage facilities within 20 miles of the proposed new one. “This list is soon to be 54 because the Hendersonville City Council just approved a 99,000-square-foot mini-storage facility off of Asheville Highway,” she said. “We are here today to voice our opposition to this megasized monstrosity. We are asking you today, please help us preserve the Crab Creek community.”
“We appreciate everyone’s input,” Commission Chair Bill Lapsley told the residents. “I’m sure my colleagues and I will take all this into consideration and we’ll see what the Zoning Board of Adjustment decides.”