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Zoning board OKs apartments, RVs in Etowah development

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The Henderson County Zoning Board of Adjustment on Wednesday granted a developer’s request to include apartment buildings and an RV park in a 299-unit development in Etowah that has drawn strong opposition from neighboring homeowners.

More than 30 residents who live near the 232-acre site on McKinney Road raised numerous objections during a public hearing that lasted more than 90 minutes.

Developer John Turchin, who has built residential communities in Miami and Banner Elk, is seeking the county’s approval for a 299-unit development, including 173 single-family homes, 70 duplexes, 56 apartments, 16 guest rooms and 24 RV spaces on what is now a cow pasture between McKinney Road and the French Broad River.
“I believe there’s a niche in the market to downsize out of our houses and move into a rental community in a rural situation and move on to a farm,” Turchin said. The project is geared toward healthy living, fitness, an active lifestyle with outdoors amenities and wellness programs.
“It’s geared toward year-round rentals, long-term rentals, not transient rentals. ... We’re trying to create an active lifestyle community for baby boomers,” he said.
The single-family units would be built in clusters of eight to 16 cottages. Rent in the community would range from $1,000 to $2,500 a month, he said, and residents would be required to sign leases of at least six months.
“We could put a lot more units on this property. That’s not what our intention is. Our intention is to build a prototype of a community that’s geared toward the future, that the country is moving toward," Turchin said.
The Zoning Board of Adjustment was authorized under the county land-use code to take up two components of the development that require a special-use permit — seven two-story eight-unit apartment buildings and the 24-space RV park.
Neighbors objected to the apartments and the RV spaces but also raised concerns about the prospect of adding 299 units in all.
“I understand the need for the Hammonds to sell off their property but this is not the solution,” said Mary Kathleen Riddle. “You can’t just drop a little settlement into the middle of a farm and continue to call it a farm. It’s not honest. .. this will ruin the quality of some people’s lives. The reality is it’s going to be absolutely devastating.”
Homeowners said the development would overburden roads and the Etowah Sewer Co., which would serve the community and would destroy habitat of birds and animals.
Turchin has other hurdles to clear before he could break ground. The Henderson County Planning Board, which has the authority to approve or reject the development, tabled consideration of the master plan for the development.The Planning Board has 90 days to make a decision on the master plan. Even if Turchin wins approval for the master plan, he still must come back to the Planning Board for final approval of a development plan, which spells out specifics like erosion control, water and sewer service, stormwater management and traffic.