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City OKs 70-unit four-story apartment project on Greenville Hwy. at Chadwick

A project of 70 apartments in three four-story buildings on the southeast corner of Greenville Highway and Chadwick Avenue can go forward whether the developer wins a rezoning or not, startled Hendersonville City Council members learned Thursday night.

As a result, the council voted unanimously to OK the rezoning, clearing the way for a development that dozens of homeowners had opposed in a four-hour Planning Board meeting.

Community Development Director Lew Holloway issued a big correction when the City Council opened a public hearing on the rezoning request. When planners first received the request, they assumed that it needed the approval of the City Council because of its size — greater than 50,000 square feet. But the south gateway zoning district the council adopted in 2003 is one of the few that has no density cap.

"It was an oversight in our department early on in the process," Holloway said.

The developer plans to build three four-story buildings on the property totaling 117,600 square feet and made up of 80 apartments, including 56 two-bedroom, two bath apartments and 24 one-bedroom, one-bath units. The site, which is vacant, previously contained a mobile home park with 13 dwellings.

On Nov. 15, 28 people who attended a neighborhood compatibility meeting raised concerns about traffic, stormwater runoff, incompatbility with the existing single-family home, the loss of trees and the height of the mid-rise buildings. A traffic impact analysis said that the development would generate 434 car trips a day. The Planning Board in a 5-1 vote recommended that the City Council deny the rezoning.

The applicants are project manager Joey Burnett and architect Tamara Peacock, developer Brett Barry and property owner Noy Hensley of Hunting Creek Associates. Peacock said Barry had modified the project to address neighbors' concerns.

"We took into account what everbody was saying," she said. "People were worried about traffic and the driveway being too close to the intersection and the cars stacking." The revised plan cuts the total units to 70 from 80 and adds 21 more parking spaces.

"These are the kind of projects I really feel like we need to encourage," she said. "I can tell you I've been trying to hire people and have had people take the job and say 'I can't find a place to live.'"

Sandra Williams, a homeowner who lives nearby, said she is concerned about the density of the developments, traffic congestion, increased cut-through use of Chadwick and flooding from big rainstorms.

Before the council voted unanimously to authorize the development, council member Jerry Smith explained that the situation had changed since the Planning Board took up the request.

"There were some mistakes that were made," he said. "Some of those standards that were debated and discussed at the Planning Board were just wrong. Our developer has made a good faith effort to change his plan to address some of the concerns. I want to indicate that there has been some changes to how we have to interpret this request that we have learned since the Planning Board."

"It's a very awkward situation for everyone involved," Mayor Barbara Volk added. "We do have to abide by our current ordinances and development guidelines and looking at them in light of the proposal is what we have to consider tonight."