Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

TIMELINE of text amendment allowing floodway fill

Image shows portion of property in the floodway along Mud Creek. Three Cormier parcels are outlined in red.

Here’s a timeline of the discussion and action on a text amendment to allow building in the floodway, which is the land closer to rivers, creeks and streams than the flood fringe:

Dec. 10, 2021: Responding to a complaint, Henderson County floodplain regulators conduct an inspection of property in Mountain Home Industrial Park owned by Chris Cormier, owner of Carolina Specialties Construction.

Jan. 10, 2022: Natalie Berry, an engineer who is the county’s site development director and stormwater expert, and floodplain administrator Toby Linville issue a notice of violation for the land owned by Cormier. “Fill material has been hauled in and placed on your properties” on North Egerton Road “in violation of the Henderson County Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance,” the notice says, adding that the county has no record of a floodplain fill application. To resolve the violation, Cormier would need to apply for a permit, submit a remediation plan, remove the fill and submit a certification from an engineer that the flood fringe has been returned to its original condition.

Feb. 17, 2022: The Henderson County Planning Board votes 8-0 to recommend denial of a request to lift the 20 percent cap on floodplain fill. The advisory board “had a number of concerns (about) allowing by right any fill in the floodplain above the allowed 20 percent threshold,” minutes of the meeting said. “The board was also concerned about the impact of flooding on adjacent and downstream property and related emergency service safety issues.”

Aug. 7, 2022: Commissioner Michael Edney makes a pitch for a land development code amendment to ease restrictions on development in the floodplain. The idea stalls when commissioners Bill Lapsley and Rebecca McCall insist that Edney’s proposal needs to be reviewed by the Planning Board and by Berry, who is also the county’s stormwater administrator.

June 23, 2023: Cormier files a text amendment application to allow fill in the floodway.

Sept. 21, 2023: Planning Board votes 5-3 to recommend denial of the proposed text amendment, citing concerns over flood hazards and loss of farmland. “Why are we sitting here discussing the possibility of exacerbating what is already a very serious problem in Henderson County?” asks board member Rick Livingston, who is chief of Mills Fire & Rescue. Susan Frady, a former code enforcement officer for the city of Hendersonville, and engineer Andrew Bick advocate for the text amendment. The planning staff does not mention Cormier or the existing violation.

Oct. 18, 2023: Commissioners vote 3-2 in favor of the text amendment, with Edney, David Hill and Daniel Andreotta voting yes and Lapsley and Chair Rebecca McCall voting no. A planning staff memo, which omits the name of the applicant, describes comments by “those in favor of the amendment” but is silent on comments that opposed it.

Nov. 9, 2023: County Manager John Mitchell assures the Lightning that the text amendment does not cure the Cormier violation. “When we see a violation, we will deal with that violation and be sure that people live up to the law — everybody,” he says.

Nov. 13, 2023: Cormier’s property remains in violation of the county’s Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance “because the fill hasn’t been removed and it hasn’t been permitted," floodplain administrator Toby Linville confirms in an interview. "The code allows 20 percent fill in the floodplain and under the old rules no fill in the floodway. He has 100 percent fill in the floodplain and has filled in the floodway.”