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Green River residents expected to implore county to look at lodge request

GREEN RIVER — Denied a public hearing on a landowner's plans to build a lodge and private club in rural Green River, residents of Cabin Creek Road plan to appeal to Henderson County commissioners to step in and take a closer look at whether the request is "a loophole" that evades the intent of the county land-use code.

A year after dropping a rezoning request to permit a 20-room inn off of Cabin Creek Road, the landower filed new development plans for a lodge and private club on a 4½-acre site. This time, the project does not require a rezoning. The use is permitted "by right" in the Rural Two Residential zone. and authorization lies with the Technical Review Committee, the panel made up of officials from the NCDOT, the health department, emergency and fire services, Hendersonville water and sewer systems and county building and stormwater offices. It does not go before the Planning Board or Board of Commissioners, county Zoning Administrator Matt Champion said. The TRC is scheduled to review the request on Tuesday.

Landowner Lark Elliot said in plans drawn by Hendersonville landscape architect Hunter Marks that Tuxedo Falls would be made up of a 10,000-square-foot lodge, a restaurant and bar, pool, hiking trails and outdoor education.

“I don't think that the plan has really changed," Ben Dowling, who lives next to the site of the proposed lodge, said in an interview. "I think that is a commercial loophole that she’s pursuing. It's frustrating to me as an immediate owner who's going to be impacted that my zoning is not protecting me and my county representation is really not interested in engaging whether this is a loophole or not.”

While he's not sure how many other Green River residents may join him tonight, he said he's had positive responses from many of them.

"I've passed the word around to my neighbors. I'm asking them to give me guidance and advice," he said, adding that he is  "really just wishing they would reconsider and recognize that the value of their piece of property is as a residential rural location."

"They're intent on maximizing profit even though they're claiming nonprofit status," he said. "They're claiming to offer a lodge that gives amenities to a program that doesn't exist. So it's clearly a loophole. Then when they build what they want to build, then they're gonna say, ‘Well, it's already here and it's already operating.’
“It makes it really difficult for our community to help define how we want this community developed. I plan on speaking on Monday before the commissioners, basically to ask them to look ahead of this and see that a rubber stamp of this is incredibly unfair and it just needs to have a public hearing because she's effectively seeking to have a commercial operation outside of a commercial zone. ... What I can say is I have felt so supported by my community. Everyone I engaged with not only tells me they're sorry it's happening but thanks me for offering some kind of organization and offering some feedback. I and my neighbors are committed to keeping Green River green and keeping it rural and residential.”

Marks said the development would support summer camps and other community businesses.

“The original plan was to rezone it for an inn and the problem is in the county there's no provision for an inn,” he said last week. “The only thing that it has is a hotel so we would have had to rezone to community commercial and that just didn't fly. (Cabin Creek Road residents) weren't comfortable with that and I can understand that. And so we're going back with club-lodge, which is by right. You can do that by right in our zoning.”