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Mills River approves Jeffress Road townhome project

Longbranch Development, LLC attorney Hannah Michalove speaks to Mills River Town Council on Thursday night. Longbranch Development, LLC attorney Hannah Michalove speaks to Mills River Town Council on Thursday night.

MILLS RIVER — The Mills River Town Council on Thursday night approved plans for a 148-unit townhome development on 37 acres off Jeffress Road.

The council voted 4-1 to approve a major special use permit for the multifamily townhome project after it reconvened a public hearing that began on March 10. Council member James Cantrell cast the only no vote.

The council included conditions on developers when it voted. One condition requires the developers to create a vegetation buffer and build a six-foot high privacy fence to separate the development from the home of Daniel Johnson. Johnson’s home will be essentially surrounded by the development, Mayor Pro Tem Randy Austin said.
Another condition of the council’s approval of the permit included that the developer’s make water service available to Johnson if he ever needs it.
Johnson, who attended Thursday’s meeting and the March 10 meeting, said after the council’s vote that he appreciated the conditions but questioned whether the fence and vegetation would truly screen the two-story townhomes from his property.
“They are still going to be seen,” he said.
Johnson said he also continued to have concerns about how the project will increase traffic near his home.
Before voting on the permit, Cantrell and Mayor Shanon Gonce also expressed concerns about the proximity the project has to farming in the area.
Gonce said dust from farmers plowing on dry days will blow into the open windows of the townhome residents. Cantrell said the residents needed to know that both dust and spray associated with farming could blow their way.
Council members heard comments from the public on March 10 but on Thursday they only heard evidence they had requested from the project’s Spartanburg, S.C., developer, Longbranch Development LLC.
In response to the council’s request for more information about traffic concerns, Longbranch attorney Hannah Michalove told the council traffic at the proposed development would have zero impact from the nearby Tap Root Dairy development.
In response to its request for more information about how children at the development might impact local schools, Michalove told the council that Henderson County Public Schools Superintendent John Bryant said the school system did not endorse developments but noted the need for workforce housing. A nearby principal also said the school welcomes all students with open arms.