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Cabin Creek Road homeowners organize to oppose commercial zoning

ZIRCONIA — Cabin Creek Road homeowners are organizing to oppose a proposed commercial development that they say would scar “one of the most beautiful, undeveloped and unspoiled parts of Henderson County.”

Property owners Daniel Park and Lark Park Elliot are asking the county to rezone a 48-acre vacant site from from Residential Two Rural to Community Commercial in order to build a 20-room inn surrounded by walking trails and other amenities. Last Sept. 20 Park bought a 43-acre parcel for $500,000 and Elliott bought a 3.2-acre parcel for $75,000 and a 1.8-acre parcel for $40,000, land records show.
Architect Hunter Marks of Watermark Landscape Architects acknowledged that the land is not suitable for a large intense commercial development and said that the inn is the owners’ only plan for the property.
“They realize the only way to do that would be to rezone this property,” he told the Technical Review Committee during the first public airing of the rezoning application on Tuesday. “No other intention for this property. We realize the lack of utilities would restrict what can be done regardless. We realize this is a special piece of property where Joe’s Creek and Cabin Creek come together and the applicant is considering a conservation agreement for the property. We don’t have a plan. It’s just a concept right now.”
The Technical Review Committee waived its customary rule of not permitting public comment and agreed to hear from neighbors.
Adjoining homeowners Marcie and Ben Dowling were among 21 people who showed up at the meeting of the advisory committee, which is made up of officials from the NCDOT, the county planning, public health, permitting and engineering departments, fire marshal and a city utilities engineer.
“We have sent last six years negotiating to just preserve” their 12 acres of land surrounding their home, Ben Dowling said. “We are investing in Green River because it offers a country way of life, with rural values, not land values. In Mills River, they are spending twice the amount to live in each other’s back yard.”
IMG 0643 1Amy and Cory McCraw, who own land next to property that could be rezoned for commercial use, and Linda Davis, who lives across the road from the site, listen to the county Technical Review Committee discuss the request.A native and lifelong resident of Henderson County, Amy Beddingfield McCraw and her husband, Cory, also live on land that abuts the 48-acre site that could be rezoned.
“Our son will inherit the property from me and will be the fourth generation to live on the property,” she said. “I don’t know how familiar you are with Cabin Creek Road but it is one of the most beautiful, undeveloped and unspoiled parts of Henderson County. I truly love our land. So I was both shocked and heartbroken to learn that a developer had purchased the property and has asked the county to rezone nearly 50 acres for commercial development.”
Commercial development could ruin the property, cause runoff that would endanger trout and “change the nature of the entire Cabin Creek Road, Green River and Tuxedo community,” she said. “Cabin Creek Road is a steep, winding, narrow two-lane road. A commercial development on this road will cause an unmanageable increase in vehicle and bicycle traffic and make local residents face unreasonable challenges as they drive to their work, their homes and to church.”
Commercial zoning, she said, would create a dangerous precedent, potentially triggering other commercial uses to serve hotel guests.
“How is the county going to say no to a restaurant if it has already approved a hotel?” she said.
The Henderson County Planning Board is scheduled to take up the request at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19, after holding a public hearing. It had been scheduled for March 17. The applicants asked that it be postponed by two months.

When the hearing is gaveled to order, the Planning Board is likely to hear neighboring homeowners argue that the county’s comprehensive land-use plan does not support the rezoning.
Surrounded by single family homes, farmland and Camp Glen Arden, the site is in a large Rural Agricultural Area, which is “characterized by low-density residential development with substantial land areas devoted to agriculture and undeveloped lands,” the ordinance says. “Land-use policies will seek to retain that character. Most sections of the RAA are so far from sewer services as to make their extension largely impossible. Land development regulations should recognize this by not permitting densities that would require sewer services or introduce traffic capacity problems and by encouraging densities that are consistent with steep slopes, poor septic capacities, and sensitive topography.”
It’s also in a Conservation Area, a designation that also discourages dense development. “This category includes land areas that are intended to remain largely in their natural state, with only limited development,” the comp plan says. “Such areas should be targeted for protection through regulations and incentives.”
Retail, services and offices permitted in the community commercial zone the applicants are seeking “should be compatible with adjacent development and the surrounding community and should minimize congestion and sprawl,” the comp plan says.

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Cabin Creek Road residents who oppose the rezoning are holding a meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, at Camp Glen Arden.