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Planning Board recommends rezoning for 95 homes off Chimney Rock Road

Residents of Wolf Pen and Wolf Chase and other adjoining neighborhoods are hoping to defeat a rezoning request that would permit 95 single-family homes on what is now a wooded hillside. They lost round 1 on Monday when the Hendersonville Planning Board voted to recommend that the City Council approve the request.

Joseph Schlotterbeck of Half Moon Land Holdings and property owner Triangle Ballantyne Hendersonville Inc. are seeking the city’s OK to build the three-bedroom, two-bath homes ranging from 2,000 to 2,400 square feet and projected to sell for $375,000 to $475,000. Built on 33.7 acres, the development off Chimney Rock Road would have a density of 2.82 units per acre. He described the price as "semi-affordable" and acknowledged that the cost would not meet the accepted definition of affordable. Construction cost spikes and supply chain issues, he said, have already added $25,000 to the cost of each house.

The proposed Half Moon Heights would result in the removal of 678 trees, 57 percent of them hardwoods. Of the 247 trees that would be saved, 66 percent are pine trees.

Around 50 homeowners packed a neighborhood compatibility meeting on Sept. 1 and another 25 submitted comments opposing the rezoning. Many cited the loss of the forest, stormwater runoff, traffic and depreciation of their property if the development is approved. They cited the same concerns Monday at the Planning Board meeting.
Schlotterbeck told the Planning Board that he and his father, a homebuilder for the past 25 years, had dropped the size of the development from 121 lots to 95. They also have added a dog park and a playground, he said, in response to neighbors' concerns about insufficient amenities. By decreasing the total number of lots, he said, they save more trees, create more open space and reduce the total coverage of impervious surface such as roofs, sidewalks and streets.

"One of the biggest challenges is the conservation of natural habitat," Schlotterbeck said. He said he had reviewed several months of recent city rezoning requests for residential developments. "We have more trees than any other project. We're actually saving more trees than any other project," he said. Through the project's adjustment, the number of trees taken out dropped from 678 to 637. The zoning code requires 29 street trees. He is committing to plant 310 street trees plus 219 buffer trees — "26 times more trees than are required."

"We realize we are having a large impact on this site but we want to do the right thing so we are trying to do that," he said.

The stormwater system, Schlotterbeck said, would retain water within the site but also from surrounding property. "We will actually be retaining more water so we will actually will be helping this neighborhood," he said. "We're looking at reducing our house footprint on about half of our lots. ... We're probably somewhere around 20 to 25 revisions to this thing" to address concerns and make the development more palatable.

A resident of Creek Walk Lane was among those who implored the Planning Board members to oppose the rezoning.

“There is a lot of concern in the city of Hendersonville about this particular project,” she said. “There are so many concerns — with the forest, the canopy, the trees, the slope. With all due respect, the environmental impact of removing trees is dangerous for us living downhill. ... Please don't put more traffic on our road. We are barely handling it now."

Schlotterbeck said other possible development would potentially make traffic worse than his 95-home development. "It is zoned for up to 10 units per acre," he said, and others nearby are 12 and 15 units per acre. City planner Matthew Manley confirmed that the current Planned Residential Development zoning allows two to 10 dwellings per acre.

Although the planning staff recommended no homes on a slope of greater than 30 percent, the developer did not commit to that. The plans call for six or seven homes to be built on the steep slope.

Before recommending that the council approve the rezoning, the Planning Board added nine conditions, including recessing garages toward back yards so that front porches are "the primary architectural feature fronting the street" and asking the developer to work with city staff to add a hiking trail connecting to the adjoining neighborhoods. Under a conditional zoning request, the City Council can set conditions but under state law the zoning applicant must agree to them.