Archived Opinion

Development does not fit Waynesville

Development does not fit Waynesville

To the Editor:

I find myself perplexed over the “housing crisis” in Waynesville. It seems all our town does is help big developers push more and more into rural neighborhoods. The public is being deceived into believing there is need for more, even when housing magazines/websites show numerous vacant homes. When will enough finally be enough? 

This so-called crisis has spurred development approvals on Plott Creek (against that community’s wishes), Buchanan Drive/Allen’s Creek (against that community’s wishes), the former Bi-Lo property, the old Hospital, and now Sunnyside Road (against that community’s wishes). Where are all these people coming from? There are no factory or business opportunities. There is no draw for young families with children (or who might want children) because we lack activities for youth to participate in outside of school. Our native residents are either dying out, selling out or moving out, due mostly to a town that doesn’t listen to its people when they speak out. We have been shown again and again that “quantity” means more than “quality.” 

The development proposed for Sunnyside screams “urban sprawl,” can you hear it? It does not suit our neighborhood, it does not suit Waynesville. It is too much! Even if people do come, why would they stay? The very things they move here for are being taken away and is making Waynesville exactly what they are leaving behind. 

Sure, some people want a second residence and might come and purchase another house, but they will not live here year-round.  Waynesville’s first priority should be to its people who do reside here all the time. 

On Oct. 8, I requested of town staff (in the development offices) a copy of Chapter 15 of the Land Development Standards, Technical Review Committee (TRC) notes, and anything the developer for the Sunnyside monstrosity had submitted to date. The secretary who answered my call as well as another female in her office coached me where to look for Chapter 15 on the website and I realized it had not been updated. The secretary went on to tell me that there were not minutes taken at the TRC meeting to pass on and there was nothing more submitted by the developer since the meeting on Sept. 30. That same day, she did forward me the agenda packet from the Sept. 30 meeting. I worked with what I had.

Taking what we could find from the small amount of assistance I was given and prior to the next scheduled meeting, my husband and I wrote and submitted a letter, clearly outlining several problems with what had been submitted for review. Before I went to the town offices to turn in the letter to forward to the Planning Board, I received the agenda packet for the Oct. 18 meeting.

It’s important to keep in mind that I had requested information to appeal intelligently to my local governing board. I wanted to be able to get this information to my neighbors so they could do the same. Even though I tried to get assistance I could not. However, the letter that I wrote was readily given to the developer in a timely manner so they appeared very accomplished and prepared in front of the board. The neighborhood residents were allowed to speak for an allotted 3-5 minutes (give or take), however town staff and the developers did not have to adhere to a time limit. Why should the developer have more voice than the citizens? 

After the Oct. 18 meeting had been closed and the citizens had exited the room, a reporter was interviewing my husband outside the board room. A quorum was still inside with town staff, the developer and town council. They began talking about the development again, which leads to the question of whether that would be a breech of state open meeting laws?

This is bound to make you wonder why it appears town staff and boards are non-neutral when it comes to big developments. Why did town staff not comply with citizen requests? Are these things intentional or an oversight? Despite what town staff exchanged in an email to the developer and town boards, I have time stamped documentation on my office and cell phone of calls made/received to/from the town development office on the dates I have said. I also received agenda packets to my personal email from town staff. If I had not requested, why would they have sent anything?

Wake up Waynesville! Start asking the questions. Start interjecting yourself at town meetings to help maintain what’s left of our town. It could be your neighborhood next.

Charlotte Rogers

Waynesville

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4 comments

  • I called Cruso my home as a small child, but sadly my mother moved us to Florida. I lived less time in Cruso than I have in Florida and yet I call Haywood County my home. The area holds such fond memories of the simple things in life. I've always said that this area is what Heaven must look like. It is a place that allows me to get away from the city life. Ironically, my career for 20+ years has been a state licensed property manager for Condos and Home Owner Associations so by experience alone I see the damage developers are doing to our land and our peaceful living. I live in Pasco County Florida. Look up how large this county has grown with businesses and home sites. Traffic is absolutely horrible. We use to be able to tell when it was Snow-Bird Season...not anymore, there are so many people here all the time. If there is a piece of land, the County will allow a developer to build an HOA or apartment complex just to get more money in taxes; with more housing brings more businesses. Don't talk about how many Publix we have in a 5 mile radius. And don't think that the County will stop at this one development; it will continue and it will get worse. When I bought my last home 20 years ago there was only a 7 eleven on the corner. I had regular visits of wildlife in my yard, it was wonderful. Now, I can't remember the last time I saw a deer except for the ones who lost there life to a car. The sirens overpower the noise of the birds now. he town needs to come together to keep the area as it is; a charming, lovely place to enjoy. There is a reason people like me go back to visit the beauty of what God created. On the topic of meeting procedures, I am only knowledgeable with Florida Statutes, but by what you have outlined in their proceedings, my perception tells me there is something shady happening between the "officials" and the developer and people need to be held accountable. Wake up Waynesville!!!

    posted by Heather Bates

    Tuesday, 11/30/2021

  • This trend is happening everywhere across WNC. The need for “affordable housing” is just the latest catch phrase to justify development. Call a spade a spade. Developers are here to make money from second home owners. Meanwhile young families who would actually contribute to our community still wont be able to find affordable housing.

    posted by Tyler Beamer

    Tuesday, 11/23/2021

  • We have the very same problem here in Highlands. Second homes are being purchased as rentals for absentee out of state investors .. it is destroying the fabric of our small communities.

    Non residents are currently suing our town to change existing ordinances!! Wake up Waynesville!!

    posted by Kelly McDuff

    Sunday, 11/21/2021

  • I totally agree with Mrs Rogers on each and every point. I feel those of us who have been “loyal” residents have no voice, no advocate and definitely no one who is accountable to us. Our small neighborhood has always been quiet and problem free. The majority of us have lived on our land since we were born and most are living on several acres. We do not wish for this area to be inundated with cookie cutter homes (115 to be exact), 230 plus vehicles coming in and out, noise that never stops, and street lights. This proposed subdivision is not appropriate in this area-it’s too much. It was stated at one of the meetings that Waynesville is not prepared, from an infrastructure standpoint, for all this proposed housing in such a small area, let alone the ones at the old hospital/DSS building or the ones at the Bi-Lo building—these are all within close proximity to each other. Most residents do not want an Asheville type town or they would be living in such a town. I agree that those of us that have been here our entire lives seem to be being driven out or at least our quiet small town feel is. We have to be proactive if we want to keep our way of life. Stand up for what you believe in and hopefully someone will decide to be our voice and our advocate.

    posted by Kimberly Turner Mathis

    Friday, 11/19/2021

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