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Buildout plan fractures Towne Place homeowners

centers on an expired special use permit. centers on an expired special use permit.

Siding with a developer over residents opposed to the buildout of Towne Place, the Hendersonville Planning Board recommended a zoning code change that would allow construction of the final four residential units in a vacant corner of the 9.6-acre development on Greenville Highway.

A development dispute centered on an expired special use permit has divided Towne Place homeowners. City Manager John Connet proposed a city code change that would make it easier for developers to resubmit building plans after their original permits have expired.
Because the Towne Place permit expired, the developer had to resubmit an application, a process that under city code required all the property owners in the 36-unit development to sign off. The developer appealed Planning Director Sue Anderson’s ruling that the application signed only by the developer was invalid.
“If the developer could have gotten all the signatures, it would have been an easy fix,” Larry Winson, the developer’s attorney, told the Planning Board. “Couldn’t do it. That’s why we’re here today.”
The proposed city code change would clear the way for a new application. It would allow developers to resubmit expired special use permit applications with the signatures of the owner of the property to be developed — in this case the developer. Developer James Ayers would still be required to apply for the permit for the last two buildings, which would contain two residential units each. The application would be subject to Planning Board review and City Council approval.
Linda Cooper, an officer in the Towne Place homeowners association, spoke in favor of the completion of the last units. Of 31 residents in the development who responded to a survey, 22 favored the buildout, she said. The city code as written “effectively gives as little as one homeowner the right to veto the development,” she said.
George James lives next door to the vacant lot in the northeast corner of Towne Place that would be developed. He was among four residents who spoke against the construction of the four units. Three spoke in favor of the buildout.
“Consistency in zoning regulation is fundamental to the maintenance of property values,” he said, reading from a letter he wrote to the city. “Diminishing the rights of property owners for the convenience of one developer is bad for all future developers and owners. … The open space created by the unbuilt units has become a part of Towne Place, increases the attractiveness of Towne Place and increases property values. … The City of Hendersonville should not intervene to give the developer a superior legal and economic position relative to the resident owners.”
Connet told the Planning Board that the proposed change would give developers the opportunity to advance their case to public review by the Planning Board and City Council, something that would not happen if the planning director can deny applications based on the absence of neighborhood-wide signoff.
On a 6-2 vote, the Planning Board turned down Larry Mundy’s motion to change the requirement from 100 to 75 percent of owners. It voted 7-1, with Mundy voting no, to recommend the city code amendment that lets applicants go forward with the only signature of the owner of the vacant property. The proposed change goes next to the City Council.