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Hensley rebuts 'incorrect and disparaging' comments from Andreotta; commissioner responds

Rebutting comments made by Henderson County Commissioner Daniel Andreotta Monday night, Hendersonville City Council member Jennifer Hensley said the city has been cooperating with the county to support the Apple Ridge housing project and has not rejected a cost-sharing partnership to fund utility extension.

In a 490-word statement, Hensley indicated it's still likely that the city woould cover half the cost of running water and sewer lines to the Sugarloaf Road development once it has all the facts it needs from the city utility department.

"The City of Hendersonville and Henderson County are committed to working together to help with our affordable housing crisis," she said. "We are all in this together. We do need cooperation and folks who are truly committed to serving their community, and not just interested in a headline or quote in the paper to build these community partnerships. I look forward to announcing in the coming days that City Council will partner with Henderson County to help create 100 new workforce homes in our community."

The city, which received $4.5 million in American Rescue Plan money compared to the county's $22.8 million, had previously committed $360,000 in ARP money to support the workforce housing development. In May, it endorsed the project's application for tax credit financing through the N.C. Housing Finance Agency.

"Commissioner Rebecca McCall first approached me three weeks ago about a wonderful opportunity for the City and County to partner with each other to do something positive for our community," Hensley said. "I immediately called our City Manager John Connet to explore this great potential. ... We have historically supported many Affordable Housing Projects with infrastructure. The City of Hendersonville is actively working with our water and sewer engineers and Housing Assistance Corporation on how we can contribute to the higher level to match the county’s contribution."
Commissioner Andreotta, called her last Thursday a few hours before a long City Council meeting that night and asked that the city fund half the cost, $800,000, adding that "he expected an answer by Monday," Hensley said. "I explained to him that I would do my best, but with that short of notice, our full agenda, and our water and sewer folks still gathering details, I would need a bit more time to get him that commitment."

Andreotta was premature, she said, in stating that the city had decided not to join the cost-sharing partnership.
"During the County Commissioner meeting Monday, Nov. 7th, Commissioner Andreotta made incorrect and disparaging public comments that he was disappointed in us not wanting to partner," she said. "That is simply untrue. We need full support of council, all the facts, and legal details before we can commit $800,000."

Andreotta responded to Hensley's comments with a three-paragraph statement of his own in which he, too, expressed hope that the city and county could still share the cost

"The Apple Ridge project was approved in April of this year," he said. "So, some seven months ago it was known that annexation would be required, that there would be water/sewer service, and that the City would be providing those services. I do not see this as a two-to three-week timeframe. It is also my understanding that this idea had come up before regarding this project.

"Also, it was made clear in our meeting on Monday evening that the door was still wide open for the City to participate in this venture. Perhaps we (Commissioners) rushed our decision, and should have given the City a bit more time. However, as we all know once a motion is put forth, unless it is retracted, it will be voted on. And as a staunch supporter of workforce housing opportunities myself, I wanted to support this one for sure.

"I did not condemn the City for not participating, but I was/am disappointed that we were able to make our decision, yet they were not. The only information I received when I inquired as to the City’s response to our suggestion that we share the sewer cost was that they were talking about it. It was not indicated to me at all that they were working toward participating, just that they were talking about it, which leaves a lot to the unknown. And we do not want this or any future workforce housing project to be delayed if at all possible.

"I hope this helps to fill in a few blanks and give some clarity. There are many moving parts to the City and County working together on any topic, and I look forward to that going well moving forward."