Why 73 townhome rentals for East Asheville have some residents saying 'stop'

Designs from Trilogy, a Georgia-based development company, show 74 townhome units planned for the Oakley neighborhood in East Asheville. The townhomes would be built off Pinnacle View Road, the only proposed entrance and exit.

ASHEVILLE - A proposal to build 73 single-family rental townhomes in East Asheville’s Oakley neighborhood is headed to an Aug. 10 Buncombe County Board of Adjustment meeting for initial approval, but some residents are concerned about narrow roads, limited space and potentially dangerous congestion.

Kelly Connors, 45, lives on Pinnacle View Road along with a handful of other homeowners. She’s been in her home for two and ½ years, but is an Oakley native, she said.

Her property borders the proposed development, which includes 14 buildings, 73 units — though designs for the project show 74 units — and 155 parking spaces on a portion of roughly 6.5 acres.

Connors created a Change.org petition titled “Help stop Pinnacle View Townhome.” It has since received 66 signatures.

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“Help us say NO to rental townhouse development on Pinnacle View Rd in Oakley NC,” Connors wrote in the petition. “This will have a huge impact on our roads, water, sewer and school systems. Imagine 154 more cars on School Road East, Oakview Park Road and Fairview Road. As an Oakley native and resident, I would not like having this development next door to me.”

When reached by phone the Pinnacle View development project applicant and developer Matt Cotton told the Citizen Times he was not immediately able to comment on the project. Though the company managing the development is called “TR 31 Pinnacle View, LLC,” applicant email addresses are associated with Trilogy Investment Company in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Connors and others are especially worried area roads can't support the proposed development.

“The infrastructure, Pinnacle View Road especially, is not equipped to handle this,” Connors said. “It’s a narrow road, it’s not been maintained. It is actually starting to break off on the edges.”

Connors also is concerned about how providing water and sewer services to the area could affect her and her neighbors. Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County in the project’s application said the project will need an extension of sewer line to the area or a pump station.

Designs for proposed townhomes off Pinnacle View Road in East Asheville are shown in an application for a 73-unit project.

“Our roads can’t handle anymore of the traffic that we already have,” said Janet Wofford, in a comment on the Change.org petition. “Our roads are curvy and it’s hard enough for cars, not to mention fire trucks, buses etc. please sign to stop this development. Don’t we have enough housing developments going on now that are unaffordable? Why add one more to our already crowded neighborhood.”

Another commenter was worried the new townhomes would put pressure on the Reynolds school district.

“The Reynolds School District can't handle the additional children this apartment complex would bring in. Then there's the issue of traffic on Oakley School Road There's already more traffic than it can handle,” said commenter Rebecca Wright.

Connors said she has four kids under the age of 7 at her home at any given time.

“They’re all little,” she said. “What happens if they run into the road? I’m a good distance off that road, but if a kid gets loose from you, it takes a while to catch up with them.”

Nancy Vellano, 79, said she's lived in the Pinnacle View Road area for most of her life and echoed Connors' concern about dilapidated, pothole-filled roads that are too narrow for growing traffic right now.

"If each one of those 74 families has two cars, which usually is what happens," she said, "that's going to add 150 cars to Pinnacle View Road, which is only about 800-900 feet long."

Pinnacle View connects School Road East, which she also said needs maintenance and is "barely wide enough for two cars." She said more congested roads could pose risks to neighbors' pets.

The project’s application insists there won’t be any significant impact to surrounding properties.

Vellano said stormwater management is also an issue.

"I think it's going to be a mess," said Pinnacle View Road resident Leonard Koenick, 81. He's lived at his current home 6 years and has sent developers numerous questions about whether they've done sufficient research to figure out if the development could adversely affect residents.

"It's way overbuilt,"  Koenick said, noting the same concerns as other neighbors: small roads, population growth and potential negative effects on neighbors.

According to designs, Pinnacle View Road is the only proposed entrance and exit for the development, meaning congestion would likely significantly increase if the project moves forward. Developers will have to get approval to connect to the project from North Carolina Department of Transportation and also will have to complete a traffic study.

Connors noted the development is only on a portion of empty acreage in the area and wanted to know if more development was possible.

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Developers are requesting a special use permit to establish a planned unit development for the project and will do so at an Aug. 10 Board of Adjustment meeting at noon. The current zoning for the property is residential.

Connors, Vellano, Koenick and other Pinnacle View Road neighbors plan to attend the Aug. 10 meeting.

"I don't like the idea of seeing continuous activity 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Connors said, reflecting on how the Oakley area has burgeoned in development since she was young.

She said she wants to ask Board of Adjustment for water, traffic and school surveys before the development moves forward.

Vellano concurred.

"They need to plan first, before they come in," she said.

Andrew Jones is Buncombe County government and health care reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at @arjonesreports on Facebook and Twitter, 828-226-6203 or arjones@citizentimes.com. Please help support this type of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.

This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: East Asheville neighbors say 'NO' to proposed 73-unit development