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Lakewood Road residents raise concerns about traffic

Developer Travis Fowler and engineer Wyatt Edsel answer questions about a 324-unit apartment complex on Lakewood Road. Developer Travis Fowler and engineer Wyatt Edsel answer questions about a 324-unit apartment complex on Lakewood Road.

Residents of Lakewood Road raised questions Wednesday about a 324-unit apartment complex on the narrow, winding road that they said is overburdened by mail trucks and cut-through traffic going to and from the Highlands Square shopping center and is also the site of nearly 300 apartments currently under construction.

Developer Travis Fowler is seeking a rezoning from Industrial to Urban Residential Conditional Zoning for one-, two- and three-bedroom rental units on 60.56 acres on Lakewood Road near the U.S. Postal Service annex and Sam's Club.

Residents who live on Lakewood Road and in Shamrock Estates near the post office annex said while they appreciate the need for more housing in Hendersonville they question why so much of the new stock is targeting their neighborhood. Besides the apartments on Lakewood, another project has just been proposed — 99 duplexes on Francis Road a quarter mile from the Lakewood Road site. And in addition to more than 700 dwellings proposed or under construction, Francis and Lakewood roads — it’s one road that changes names after a sharp bend — are already home to large two large apartment complexes, they pointed out.

“For those of us that live on the road, we can’t stress enough how bad the traffic is now,” said Jennifer Sutton, one of four residents of Shamrock Estates who asked questions and implored city planners and the developer to consider a traffic solution. “It is very concerning for us that live on that road.”

“We have to contend with all the people coming down Lakewood to get to Walmart, Sam’s Club etc.,” added Glen Gordon. “Few motorists heed the 25 mph speed limit posted on Lakewood, making it dangerous for the homeowners to access Lakewood.”

Fowler and the engineer for the project, Wyatt Edsell, responded to the traffic concerns and also explained plans to capture stormwater underground so it doesn’t cause downstream flooding and described a concept to make a parklike amenity out of a pasture that’s part of the 60-acre site. They also said the complex would include a pool, clubhouse and recreation amenities.

A traffic impact analysis that the developer is required to conduct will be “a full assessment of the existing, under-construction and proposed conditions,” Edsell said. While the city’s land-use code requires 462 parking space, the developer plans 526.

Fowler, who has built other large apartment projects, acknowledged that traffic always becomes “a difficult conversation” when neighbors see a big development in the works.

“That’s not ever not a part of our consideration,” he said. “We do have to work with the limits of exiting city infrastructure. That’s always the situation.”

“The closer we can get folks to the commercial area I think the better off we’re going to be,” he added. “Quality of life is better if you don’t have to drive as far. We want to get as much density on these properties as we can. We’re going to provide high quality, as affordable as possible housing opportunities for a lot of people that don’t currently have access to it in Henderson County. There is a massive shortage of housing in Henderson County.”

If approved as submitted, he said, plans call for 60 percent of the apartments to be two-bedroom, two-bath units, 20 percent one-bedroom and 20 percent three-bedroom. Rents would be at “workforce housing” rates.

“In general terms that phrase means it’s for the nurse, police officer, the firemen, city employees who need that workforce type of housing,” he said.

The developer also plans to build a daycare center across Lakewood Road from the apartment complex. Fowler is currently in talks with WNC Source, the federally funded agency that operates Head Start centers, about operating the daycare. If that doesn’t work out, private daycare centers have expressed interest, he said.

City planner Tyler Morrow said that the Universal at Lakewood apartments, approved in 2020 for 291 units and now under construction on a U-shaped parcel surrounding the post office annex, is required to make road improvements because of the traffic the apartments will generate. It’s possible the new 324-unit project would be required to make changes, too, if approved. Those can include turn lanes, stop signs, traffic lights and other improvements.

Another neighborhood compatibility meeting is scheduled this week where the public can see more details and ask questions about another new rezoning request. Just up the road from the Lakewood Drive site, Tom Martinson of DHI Communities and property owners John and Betty Hammond have asked for a rezoning from C-2 Secondary Business and R-40 Low Density Residential to PRD-CZD Planned Residential Development Conditional Zoning District to build the two-family units on 12.76 acres. That meeting is at 2 p.m. Friday at the City Operations Center, 305 Williams St.