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Commissioners OK Tap Root apartment complex request

Henderson County commissioners on Monday granted a rezoning request to allow 270 apartments on 19 acres on Butler Bridge Road adjoining the 699-unit Tap Root farm development currently under construction.

The landowners, the Johnston family, and developer Orange Capital Advisors applied for a rezoning from regional commercial to conditional use for the Farmhouse at Tap Root apartments east of the larger Tap Root development and south of I-26.

In a turnabout from the usual public comments from homeowners opposing high-density developments, three residents spoke in favor of the development, saying it's the right location because it has public and water sewer and it's close-in to urban areas. One homeowner spoke against it, saying commissioners should delay a vote to explore the impact on schools and traffic.

Scott Case, an apple grower, grading contractor and sixth generation county native, spoke in favor of the project.

"We can't survive on a few thousand apple trees anymore," he said. "Our little farm just won't support a family as it grows. ... It makes sense to allow a high-density development in an area that already has sewer and water."

Bill Alexander, the attorney for the landowners, said the Johnston family and Orange Capital had gone beyond what the land-use plan requires by adopting the same conditions for this project that the Board of Commissioners imposed when it approved the 699-unit development on the land next door in August 2020. The proposal is consistent with the county's current land-use plan, he said, because it puts higher density housing in the midst of stores, schools and medical facilities. He also announced that the developer had agreed to reduce the total number of units from 306 to 270.

“The more we concentrate housing into the urban services area, the easier it will be for the county to preserve those more open and rural and pristine areas of the county that we not only love so much but have been what has attracted people to our county since the beginning of this county's history,” he said. “It's inevitable that Henderson County is going to continue to grow. By utilizing this project we can provide the county with much needed housing and preserve other areas of the county which do not have existing infrastructure in a better fashion. … We believe that this project will bring continuing and substantial benefits to the citizens of the county.”

Compared to the current regional commercial zoning that allows 16 units per acre, "the amount we're asking for now is less than RC would allow as a matter of right," Alexander said. "We've widened the sidewalks to five feet. One of the issues was the airport (and the proximity to the flight path). Anticipating that, we have refined the plan to agree with the airport and agree to an avigation agreement. It doesn't hurt us, seems to help them."

South Carolina-based Orange Capital, which has developed apartment complexes in nine cities, expects to invest at least $65 million in the project.

A master plan prepared by Civil Design Concepts of Asheville shows the dwellings in 10 three-story and two two-story buildings. Amenities would include a fitness center, community lounge, clubhouse with mailroom, pool, dog park and garage collection area with compactor. The plan includes 459 parking spaces (1½ per unit), 4,050 feet of 24-foot wide private roadway, and a roundabout within the development. About 3.8 acres would be open space and just under 2 acres would be common space. The apartments would be served by city of Hendersonville water and the Metropolitan Sewer District.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to authorize the project. Commissioner Daniel Andreotta, who said he preferred that the land be developed for single-family homes instead of rental apartments, voted no.

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NOTE: This story has been corrected. An earlier version said commissioners had approved a request to build 306 units. The total the developer sought in the original rezoning application was reduced to 270 during the Board of Commissioners meeting.