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Etowah Valley homeowners poised for epic battle against subdivision

Thomas Auditorium at Blue Ridge Community College, which has a capacity of 450, is likely to draw a standing-room-only crowd when homeowners square off against a developer’s plans for a 200-lot subdivision at the Etowah Valley Golf Resort.

In the most passionately contested subdivision master plan hearing in recent history, Planning Board members will hear from planning staff, the development company and its lawyers and expert witnesses before they vote up or down on the master plan, either Thursday night or at a later time. Members already heard five hours of testimony and argument in August. It’s rare for a subdivision master plan to stir up so much opposition but Etowah Valley residents have organized to stop expansion of the golf course’s residential footprint ever since Wilmington, N.C.-based Tribute Construction filed plans for a 343-unit RV park on the land last April. Tribute’s reboot of the plans into a more conventional subdivision has done nothing to quell the homeowner uprising. Organized as the Etowah Valley Preservation Society, the homeowners on and near the 27-hole golf course have compiled a mountain of studies, reports, analyses to contest the developer’s application for the homes and an on-site wastewater treatment facility to serve them. Organizers have raised tens of thousands of dollars to hire two different law firms and pay for expert witnesses on traffic, stormwater, land values and other impact, sent out detailed updates to hundreds of homeowners and rallied residents throughout Etowah to show up at meetings. Much to their chagrin, they’re not expected to get the floor on Thursday.


Originated in 1964 on brick plant land

Originally built in 1964 as an 18-hole course on the old Moland-Drysdale Corp. brick plant, Etowah Valley Golf & Resort expanded to 27 holes in 1987-88. The 174-acre site also includes a hotel, two cottages, a public restaurant, event space, a swimming pool and a driving range. The new subdivision plan includes:

  • Two new access points off U.S. 64 and one off Brickyard Road.
  • 10,900 linear feet of private roads with a 50-foot right-of-way and 20-foot roadway.
  • 40 acres of open space, or 48 percent of the 83.5-acre site, and 10,910 feet of sidewalks and walking trails.
  • A 6,000-square-foot

After reviewing the project, the NCDOT said it would require the developer to make improvements to four intersections in the area — Brevard Road-Brickyard Road, Brevard Road-North Greenwood Forest Drive, Brickyard Road-Holly Springs Road and Brickyard Road-McKinney Road — and spelled out design guidelines for the new access points.


‘Too much crammed into too small area’

In its response to the master plan application, the Preservation Society — noting that the current application is the fifth iteration for the site — raised numerous objections. It said the development fails to meet conservation guidelines — EVPS says the development preserves only 17½ acres of land, not 40 — and cites the potential for flash flooding, wastewater treatment plant issues, hazardous substance issues (based on chemicals used to manage golf course turf) and the history and character of the community.

“Too much crammed into too small of an area with too many site difficulties is too much of a risk to take,” the EVPS said.

Appeal of a Planning Board decision would be heard by the state Court of Appeals, not the Board of Commissioners. In the event of an appeal by either side — the applicant or the homeowners opposing the development — Henderson County would be named as a defendant.

If the Planning Board rejects the master plan, Tribute “could, but likely would not, name Etowah Valley Preservation Society (EVPS) as a defendant as well,” EVPS said in a recent newsletter. “If, on the other hand, the Planning Board approves the subdivision application and EVPS challenges the decision, EVPS would need to name both the applicant and the county as defendants …

“Our attorneys handle these types of land-use and development challenges frequently thus we will be prepared to move forward with the appeals process should we need to,” the update said. EVPS is also working with its traffic engineers on its impact analysis, “refining our research on Land Development Code understandings, and researching where in the sewage treatment plant permitting process the community will have input.”

In a survey on the future of the golf course property, EVPS raised the possibility of buying the property from the current owners at a cost of $6.5 million. To raise that amount, the survey says that it would need 650 homeowners to donate $10,000, 6,500 households to donate $1,000 or 13,000 households to give $500.

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The Henderson County Planning Board takes up the Etowah Valley master plan at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, at Thomas Auditorium at BRCC.