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Apple country farmers, residents react to 2045 comprehensive plan

Edneyville residents listen to county planner Janna R. Bianculli (right) describe the draft 2045 comprehensive land-use plan last week. Edneyville residents listen to county planner Janna R. Bianculli (right) describe the draft 2045 comprehensive land-use plan last week.

EDNEYVILLE — Although county commissioners depict the Clear Creek sewer plant as a grassroots-driven idea widely supported by the farm community, several Edneyville residents questioned the need for the wastewater facility last week during a public meeting on Henderson County’s proposed 2045 land-use plan.

The two dozen people who showed up to hear details of the proposed plan to guide land use for the next 20 years included homeowners and farmers. A few questioned whether running sewer lines in the apple country would spark a commercial boom, drive up land prices and increase pressure on apple growers to sell out to development.
“As a farmer I’m petrified of it,” said Linda Pryor, who grows 150 acres of apples with her husband, Gary, at their Hilltop Farm.
She explained later in an interview her fear that a sewer line from Edneyville Elementary School to the Clear Creek plant near Fruitland Road could trigger overdevelopment.
“I can see my cornfield right here,” she said after the meeting at Edneyville Community Center. She acknowledged that “there are some things that it would be helpful on. For example, we use H2A (migrant farm) labor. It would be helpful for housing for those guys,” by allowing the Pryors to increase the number of laborers they could house. “So for that kind of thing it would be nice,” she said.
She added that she didn’t want to sound negative.
“You constantly hear the doom and gloom farmer and I hate that,” she said. “I try to be the opposite because we are thankful. We do it every day and I love my job and I wouldn't be happy doing anything else.”
Another resident asked, “What does agriculture need sewer for and where is the plant going to be?”
Christopher Todd, the county’s director of business and community development, responded that farmers, businesses and landowners have been asking for sewer for years. Edneyville resident Doug Moon volunteered that he had recently visited a large packinghouse operation that employs lots of people and could benefit from public sewer service. Some businesses along U.S. 64 East are unable to expand because there’s no sewer service, county leaders have said.

‘Key recommendation’ is farmland preservation

Todd also described one of the plan’s “key recommendations” — a voluntary farmland preservation program. Tentatively named APPLE — for Agriculture Preservation and Protection of Land and Economy — the program “would enable the county to buy development rights to agricultural land, thereby protecting it from development,” according to the comp plan presentation.

“We know that agricultural land maybe has less commercial market value because you're not putting a hundred homes on it in order to sell it off,” Todd told the Edneyville residents. A program to buy development rights would compensate the farmer for the difference in the farmland price and a “highest and best use” price, conserving the land forever for agriculture use. “There are different programs about how people go about that, but that's the general idea.”
He noted, too, that farming is unrestricted in the county’s current plan and would be in the 2045 draft plan.
“There is no part of this plan today where agriculture is not allowed,” he said. “You can do agriculture in any part of Henderson County today by right as a use. That is intended to stay in the continuing document. I'm not talking about necessarily within the municipal limits — they've got their own laws. In Henderson County (outside cities) you can do agriculture under our land-use law.”

What is low density?

Edneyville residents also wanted to know whether the new comp plan will lead to high-density housing. Although the plan generally steers high-density development to urban service areas on the outskirts of Hendersonville and Fletcher, the exact number of homes per acre is a topic that has caused the plan drafters consternation.
“Some people may say that one house per acre is low density,” Todd said. “Some people may say that one house per 10 acres is low density. People have varying numbers and it’s somewhat of a gut check and a perception. That's the thing that the Planning Board actually publicly struggled with — what does low density mean? Is that one and a half units per acre? Is it something more, something a little bit less? Because we're getting that question from folks like yourselves, and that's something that eventually — especially when this becomes law not just policy — that number is going to have to be codified.”
One purpose of the series of public meetings, Todd said, “is for you all to say, ‘That's the right number or that's not the right number.’”

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To read the 2045 comp plan visit To take a survey on your priorities and desires for the county’s growth and development go to