A proposed rezoning south of Asheville near Sweeten Creek Road could pave the way for a new development by allowing higher density in an area of mainly single-family homes.
Applicants KLP Pinners EAT LLC, of Minneapolis, are seeking to rezone a 73-acre piece of a 175-acre lot on Pinners Cove Road south of Asheville, saying the higher-density zoning would allow development to be clustered, and other, steeper parts of the property to be preserved.
“The specific area requested to be rezoned to R-2 is tailored to allow the project to maintain a density that does not exceed that which is allowed over the parcel as a whole under its current R-LD zoning," the application says.
The proposed project, according to the application, “will be made up of a single-family homes, the character of which will be consistent with nearby residential subdivisions.”
The site is accessed via Pinner’s Cove Road and Chapel Hill Church Road near Mills Gap Road, according to the application, feeding into the Sweeten Creek Road and Hendersonville Road corridors.
The Buncombe County Planning Board will weigh the rezoning Jan. 24, following the Dec. 22 application.
While the application doesn't include specific development plans, it references planned unit development rules, saying that the change would allow "use of the PUD I rules to cluster the Project in order to protect the most environmentally sensitive areas of the Property, resulting in a development similar in character to those on neighboring parcels zoned R-2 and RS-2 but providing a transition area with respect to the adjacent R-LD parcels.”
According to Buncombe County records, the property was appraised in 2021 at $1.6 million and sold to KLP Pinners EAT LLC on Dec. 1, 2021, for $4.7 million.
Included in the application is a map apparently showing development plans of more than 280 units, according to a count by neighbor Sam Chastain, who has lived about a quarter mile from the site for more than two years.
Chastain said he only heard about the proposal by seeing the posted sign on the property.
"I have no issue with development," he said. "It's a natural part of a growing city."
Chastain's concern is this rezoning, and the development it could pave the way for opening the gates for new, large, dense developments in the small Pinners Cove Road community.
"All of Pinners Cove Road is like 200 units," he said, adding that the new development then would more than double the density of the neighborhood, located along the road he described as a "small, roller-coaster road" with multiple blind corners where the traffic load is already moderate.
Adding 500 cars or so along the road would demand infrastructure upgrades, he said, including a traffic light at the corner of Mills Gap and Pinners Cove roads.
Chastain said he worries that development could change the character into more like the commercial Sweeten Creek Road corridor.
"A single-family home development I think would make sense there," he said. "I know these kinds of Planned Unit Developments are very lucrative and profitable," but he said he hopes the county can step in and preserve the zoning to protect the neighborhood.
While county staff told him that no development plans are being considered, just the rezoning, Chastain says he feels if the rezoning passes, it will be a de facto approval of the development.
A staff report included with the application says the most significant change the rezoning would make is to allow for planned unit developments, which would require a special use permit from the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment.
"While specific development cannot be evaluated as part of the rezoning process, the applicant intends to present future plans that are substantially similar to single-family development patterns," it says.
The rezoning would facilitate “much-needed housing stock in the area while at the same time ensuring compatibility with neighboring property owners and uses” by clustering the project “into the area of the Property most suitable for such development,” the application says.
According to county code, the R-2 Residential District is primarily intended to provide locations for residential development and supporting recreational, community service and educational uses in areas where public water and sewer services are available or will likely be provided in the future.”
Adjacent properties along Pinners Cove Road to the east and south of the site are zoned R-2.
The current zoning of the site, R-LD, or Low-Density Residential, according to the code, “is primarily intended to provide locations for low-density residential and related-type development in areas where topographic or other constraints preclude intense urban development.”
Those areas, it says, “are not likely to have public water and sewer available and the minimum required lot area will be one acre unless additional land is required for adequate sewage disposal. These are environmentally sensitive areas that are characterized by one or more of the following conditions: steep slopes, fragile soils or flooding.”
The change would move the maximum dwelling units per acre from 2 units per lot, to 12 units per lot, and change lot size from one acre, or 43,560 square feet, in R-LD to between 6,000-30,000 square feet depending on public water and sewer availability.
Ultimately, staff recommends approval of the rezoning.
The site is bordered to the north and east by vacant land and single-family homes, according to the staff report, with a single-family neighborhood to the south, and to the west by a mix of uses, including single family neighborhoods along Sweeten Creek Road in Asheville, and Givens Estates.
Givens Estates, a nonprofit retirement community on 215 acres on Sweeten Creek Road, is about one-third of a mile from the site, according to Google Maps.
In 2019, the facility announced a $42 million expansion to add 80 new units and bring the total to nearly 500 residential living units, assisted living residences and skilled nursing beds.
Single-family homes along Pinners Cove Road are located within R-2 zoning, according to the county.
County staff says in its report that it is “in concurrence with the applicant’s rationale,” on the county’s strategy to allow cluster development to promote compact development and open space preservation.
The application, according to the staff report, “highlights the need to coordinate housing and make efficient use of available land and infrastructure while allowing for the diversification of housing stock.”
According to the staff report, the site is consistent with the county’s land use plan recommendations, including within a reasonable proximity to major transportation corridors, three quarters of a mile from Mills Gap Road.
The site is a former estate tract, consisting of the lower area where the rezoning is proposed of wooded and mowed pasture land, and the upper 102 acres of completely wooded land that “contains areas of the steep slope overlay and not under consideration for rezoning,” the report says.
It notes that public water and sewer “can be provided to serve future development of the site,” and that “the area under consideration for rezoning is largely outside of areas greater than 25% slope,” and “largely outside of areas of high elevation in excess of 2,500 feet.”
County maps included with the application show that at its lowest point near Pinners Cove Road, the site is at around 2,330 feet in elation, rising at its highest points around 2,860 feet, a difference from top to bottom of more than 530 feet.
Those maps show ridgelines bordering the property along west, and near the borders along the north and east, above 2,500 feet, with about 25% of the site, where the rezoning is requested, listed as low hazard, 0%-25% slope.
Much of the property shows greater than 25% slope, where portions of the site are listed at moderate and high hazard due to slope.
The Buncombe County Planning Board will weigh the rezoning at its Jan. 24 meeting at 9:30 a.m., as well as hear a comprehensive plan update.
Derek Lacey covers environment, growth and development for the Asheville Citizen Times. Reach him at DLacey@gannett.com or 828-417-4842 and find him on Twitter @DerekAVL.
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: Pinners Cove rezoning could allow more dense residential development