Plott Creek developers submit site plan
When a controversial text amendment passed the Town of Waynesville Planning Board and Board of Aldermen in back-to-back public hearings almost two months ago, Mayor Gavin Brown told opponents that they’d again have their chance to oppose the development that instigated it.
That chance will come at the end of this month.
“We got feedback from the last hearing that there were so many people involved that not everyone could have a seat,” said Elizabeth Teague, the Town of Waynesville’s development services director. “We want the people who come to our hearings to be comfortable and feel like they can be a part of it, so we didn’t want people hanging out on the mezzanine like last time, and we feel like there will be a crowd.”
That’s why the town booked the Historic Haywood County Courthouse for an upcoming public review of the developer’s recently submitted site plan; indeed, overflow crowds turned out to both Waynesville meetings near the end of May, nearly unanimous in their disapproval of the biggest proposed residential development Waynesville has seen in some time.
The text amendment got the green light from elected officials, passing the planning board by a vote of 5 to 2 and the board of aldermen by a vote of 4 to 1, but all who spoke on it stressed that it was only an approval of the text amendment, not the proposed development.
It’s called “Palisades at Plott Creek,” according to a preliminary plan submitted by Gastonia-based Triangle Real Estate, and will feature 200 apartments that developers call “workforce housing.”
“That plan will now go to what’s called technical review,” Teague said of the process whereby the town’s public works department, fire department, building inspectors and planners all gather to assess the validity of the plan.
“What we try to make sure we do is that by the time the application ends up before the planning board, we have a firm understanding about [developers’] compliance, and if there’s anything they need to address for the board to approve the plan, we call that out,” she said.
Area residents lamented the proposal for the 41-acre parcel, which they said could present a strain on local schools, ruin views and negatively affect the value of their properties. Some even called into question the moral character of renters, as opposed to those who could qualify for a mortgage.
Alderman LeRoy Roberson offered a swift rebuke to that argument, calling it an unfair generalization, but other aldermen who voted for the text amendment that paved the way for the development had their own reasons.
Alderman and mayor Pro Tem Gary Caldwell cited the need for affordable housing; even though the proposed apartments don’t strictly qualify as “affordable housing” per U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, they’re by no means luxury housing.
Alderman Julia Boyd-Freeman, executive director of a domestic abuse nonprofit, also recognized the need for housing — any housing — in Haywood County, where development has been stagnant since the Great Recession but population increases have not.
Brown joined them in voting to find the proposed text amendment was consistent with the town’s comprehensive plan; the lone dissent came from Alderman Jon Feichter who, as a veteran of the planning board, cited his desire to follow the wishes of residents.
Those residents will likely turn up in force, again, to see the matter settled July 30.
“Because it’s a higher density, they have to go through this secondary step, which is a quasi-judicial proceeding where the planning board does additional review on site plan, layout, landscaping, storm water, any other issues that might come up with a development of this scale,” Teague said.
Should the development not gain approval at the July 30 meeting, one possible recourse for developers would be to take the matter to superior court.
A special called meeting of the Town of Waynesville Planning Board will be held next week to consider the preliminary site plan of developers hoping to construct multi-family housing on a parcel just off Plott Creek Road. Due to a history of strong attendance, however, that meeting will not take place in Waynesville’s Town Hall, as is customary.
• Time: 5:30 p.m.
• Date: Monday, July 30
• Location: Historic Haywood County Courthouse, 215 N. Main St., Waynesville