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Lightning Top Ten: No. 1 and No. 2

2. American Rescue Plan

At $9.3 million, the Clear Creek wastewater treatment plan was the largest single appropriation from Henderson County’s $22.8 million American Rescue Plan allocation.
Henderson County is getting a sewer plant, sports complex, VFW Hall renovation and radio tower upgrades. Hendersonville appropriated $2.5 million over two years year to support firefighters’ pay and is mulling grant applications from nonprofits. In Mills River, the town council voted to underwrite operations of the town farmers market and also earmarked $500,000 for land conservation, $500,000 to acquire property to expand existing services and $100,000 to support nonprofits. Laurel Park poured all of its $742,565 into stormwater drainage improvements, part of the Town Board’s $2 million commitment to repair and repave the town’s roads. Fletcher was considering a greenway extension and a town library among other projects and Flat Rock invited nonprofits that serve the village to apply for grants. The source of the largesse was the American Rescue Plan Act, which sent a total of $33.9 million to Henderson County and its five incorporated cities. Although nonprofits did not get the $2 million they sought from Henderson County, commissioners did allocate $800,000 to help fund water and sewer lines to Apple Ridge, the Housing Assistance Corp.’s affordable housing community on Sugarloaf Road.

1. 2045 comp plan

Henderson County is projected to gain 39,000 people in the next 20 years. “To put that in perspective, that’s more than the current populations of Hendersonville, Flat Rock, Fletcher, Laurel Park, and Mills River combined,” Mountain True observed in a message to its members. “Where will those houses go?” The conservation organization said “fortunately” the county has an opportunity to answer the question when it drafts a new 25-year comprehensive land-use plan. County commissioners got plenty of input from the community, both in online surveys and public meetings. Activists, farmers and landowners rose up and confronted commissioners during a public hearing on Sept. 6 that overflowed their meeting room. “My land is part of the land grant deeded to my forefather by the Continental Congress for his service in the Revolutionary War,” Danny Maybin, a six-generation Henderson County native from Green River, told the board. “We have already lost more than a third of our apple orchards. And sprawl will overtake the remaining orchards within two decades. … The unintended results of this map include but are not limited to developmental sprawl and by far too much intrusive commercial development.” One commissioner said the public had been misled about what the plan said and pointed out it was a work in progress. At its last meeting of the year, commissioners again heard from farmers and other concerned about sprawl. Because the Planning Board made dozens of changes before recommending the plan’s adoption, commissioners agreed they’d be better off giving themselves and the public more time before a final vote. That’s how the biggest story of 2022 gets a head start on being a big story next year, too.