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Planning Board deadlocks on gated apartment building

A rendering shows the proposed Southgate Apartments, which would go up between South Church and Israel streets. [SITEWORK STUDIOS/ROWHOUSE ARCHITECTS] A rendering shows the proposed Southgate Apartments, which would go up between South Church and Israel streets. [SITEWORK STUDIOS/ROWHOUSE ARCHITECTS]

A rezoning to allow a four-story apartment building between Israel Street and South Church Street will go to the Hendersonville City Council without a recommendation to approve or deny.

After a motion to recommend approval of the application failed on a 5-3 vote, a motion to recommend denial failed on a 4-4 vote.
The Planning Board votes came last week after two residents spoke against the rezoning request and board members expressed concern about flooding around the site, which is on a vacant corner of the Southgate shopping center property. The owner and developer is David W. Royster III, owner of the Southgate Shopping Center. Royster and his development team agreed to numerous conditions the staff or Planning Board sought but said no to some, including a request that it eliminate gates at the entrances behind the Fresh Market and at Israel Street.
Attorney Chris Justus told the Planning Board that the Southgate project fits the city’s overall development goals of in-fill development, transitional uses between commercial and single-family residential zones and walkability.
“At the end of the day, you want this site developed,” he said. “You want to have people close to retail and services. You’ve got a professional engineer who will be providing to your city staff documents that say we are not going to negatively impact what’s there, predevelopment, and we have to prove that to the city as a condition.”
“We are asking for residential use so we can put people near shopping, we can put people near the Ecusta Trail, we can put people within walking distance of downtown,” he added.
Engineer Chris Day of Civil Design Concepts added: “We are not going to build this project and make this (flooding) worse than it is today.” Building up the site and installing two feet of “freeboard” as part of the construction will ensure that the structure remains well above any high water, he said.
Board member Peter Hanley made a motion to recommend approval, saying the development would be good for the area.
“They have methodology in place to deal with it,” Hanley said of the flood problems. “It’s a fantastic improvement for that part of town, not just housing. The whole improvement of the area is going to be fantastic.”
But Planning Board Chair Jim Robertson said he could not accept the rezoning as long as the landowner was seeking permission to build in the floodplain.
“They’re asking to develop 25 percent of the floodplain in an area that’s already prone to flooding,” he said.
“The flood’s going to be there,” Frederick Nace added. “The question is, where do you put the flood.”
Barbara Kromar said Israel Street is so narrow it ought to be one-way. “And the height of the building — 60 feet is crazy,” she added.
Dr. Stuart Glassman, joined architect Tamara Peacock in supporting Hanley’s motion to recommend approval of the rezoning. Voting no were Robertson, Kromar, Nace, Hunter Jones and Neil Brown. Robertson then joined Glassman, Peacock and Hanley voting against the motion to deny, making a 4-4 tie.