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Planning Board endorses affordable housing development

Executive Director Ashlyn McCoy of the Housing Assistance Corp. explains the affordable housing project during a meeting of the Planning Board on Monday. Executive Director Ashlyn McCoy of the Housing Assistance Corp. explains the affordable housing project during a meeting of the Planning Board on Monday.

A proposal to build 80 units of affordable housing on Sugarloaf Road has one more hurdle to go to win city approval.

The Hendersonville Planning Board on Monday recommended that the City Council OK the development of 60 apartments and 20 single-family homes on 19 acres between Sugarloaf Road and East Prince Road. Housing Assistance Corp., the affordable housing nonprofit agency that has built 370 apartments and 200 single-family homes in the past 34 years, is seeking a rezoning to allow the project from R-15 Medium Density Residential to PRD-CZD Planned Residential Development Conditional Zoning District.

In its unanimous vote recommending approval, the Planning Board added a condition that 50 percent of the housing must be affordable.

Engineer Will Buie said HAC had modified plans to address concerns nearby homeowners raised. Reducing the front yard setback from 30 feet to 20 feet, he said, will mean shorter driveways and also a greater rear setback, which homeowners had asked for during a neighborhood compatibility meeting on Jan. 30.

The city Tree Board recommended that the developer save as many 12-inch diameter trees as possible, improve stream corridors on the site to increase filtration and reduce erosion, enhance wildlife habitat for 20-feet on either side of the stream and try to eradicate invasive species. The Tree Board suggested that the HAC work with Conserving Carolina on the stream buffer idea, landscaping work that Buie said would cost "hundreds of thousands dollars."

"While it's a goal and something we would like to try to incorporate we'd appreciate the idea of it not being a condition because it would impact the affordabilty," he said.

The land is currently owned by Tommy Thompson, the former Henderson County commissioner and longtime Clerk of Superior Court. The frontage on Sugarloaf Road is east of AAA Storage and across from Madrid Lane.

HAC Executive Director Ashlyn McCoy told the Planning Board that the affordable housing agency is seeking approval for tax credit financing for the apartment project, which would result in affordable rent for all 60 unit. She said rents of the one-, two- and three-bedroom units would range from $422 to $1,073. Two other projects in Henderson County are seeking the tax-credit financing approval from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency— a 78-unit senior housing development at 2620 Chimney Rock Road and the proposed 60-unit Hawkins Pointe development at 714 Sixth Avenue West.

McCoy said it's possible her agency could apply for other grants if it does not win approval for tax credit financing. "There are other models for projects like this," she said.