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LIGHTNING EDITORIAL: Annexation is right policy at Upward interchange

There will be much caterwauling at the Hendersonville City Council meeting next week when a developer appears to ask for annexation and a zoning permit for an 84-room Fairfield Inn & Suites on Upward Road.

The background, as the Hendersonville Lightning reported last week, is this: Several weeks of miscommunication led to a conflict between the city and contractor Chris Cormier, of Carolina Specialties, and the applicant, Satis Patel. Cormier and Patel, and land seller Bob Quattlebaum for good measure, say they proceeded with the application and development plans without knowing they would have to be annexed. City zoning regulations are costing them money because of landscape and traffic requirements, they say.
City Council members readily admit that someone dropped the ball when Cormier first started the zoning application.
“There was a lag in communication at 100 North King between the permitting and zoning,” Mayor pro tem Steve Caraker said. “That’s when the stuff hit the fan.”
Everyone agrees that at the start, the applicant should have been told that a request for city sewer service in an unincorporated outside the city requires annexation.
Cormier and Quattlebaum also raise an equal protection argument, saying some other properties have received sewer hookups without being annexed. Caraker concedes that a couple of industrial buildings had fallen through the cracks. But in another non-annexation case that Cormier cites —Dodd Meadows— Caraker and two other council members defend the city’s position — for good reason solid we think. The city exempted the Habitat for Humanity development in keeping with a policy that encourages affordable housing.
It’s not as if the city has responded to Cormier’s complaint with a heavy hand. It has worked with him on two variance requests. One reduces the tree planting requirement in the common area from nine to zero.
“There was a little bit of a dustup in the beginning, and frankly he took us to task,” Caraker said. “But we stood our ground and came up with a good compromise.”
The city was right to stand its ground on this very important point.
After the food-palooza at our south gateway, Upward Road is the next development boom. The General Assembly has outlawed involuntary annexation. But annexation in exchange for requested city services is allowed. In fact it’s a way to help pay for the cost of growth; without annexation, existing city taxpayers underwrite the cost for new business development. Yes, the Fairfield Inn will pay city property taxes. It will also get the lower rate on its water bill because it’s in the city. And it will welcome guests who are here to visit the nearby city that was built and is sustained by the purse of city taxpayers.
We’re confident that the current City Council, which is as pro-development as any Hendersonville has had in a generation, will oversee an orderly and business friendly pattern of growth on this next interchange frontier. Council members owe no apology for asserting the city’s right to make commercial development on its borders a part of the city.