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Major development planned for Qualla Community

Plans for the development shown here indicate the construction phases people will see. Plans for the development shown here indicate the construction phases people will see.

Last week, the Jackson County Planning Board reviewed plans for a major subdivision in the Qualla Township on the northern end of the county. The planning board is tasked with reviewing subdivision plans before the process can continue toward approval.

“This is an administrative function,” said Planning Director Mike Poston. “When we’re doing subdivision review, the planning board is tasked in this major subdivision level two, subdivision review, at reviewing whether or not the proposed development meets the standards that are in the adopted subdivision ordinance.”

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is the applicant proposing the subdivision on a 188-acre plot located at 1955 Camp Creek Road in the Qualla Township. Proposed construction would take place in four phases. 

Phase one involves the construction of 74 dwelling units of mixed types, two community buildings, a sales office and a post office. Three 20-foot-wide roads will be created during this phase, as well as two one-way roads, 12 feet in width. The proposed single family lots will range from .06 to .18 acres in land area. Also proposed for phase one are a community garden, bus shelter, playground and walking trails. 

Phase two would see the construction of another community building, as well as 25 townhomes and 51 single-family home lots. Phase three involves the construction of an estimated 4,500 square foot daycare, a clubhouse and pool, two office buildings, eight townhomes, 110 single-family home lots and 62 multi-family lots. In phase four construction would take place on two mixed use buildings with two offices and six apartments in each, one clubhouse and pool and 120 multi-family buildings. 

“First and foremost, the tribe wants to be a good partner and a good neighbor to Jackson County,” said Principal Chief of the ECBI, Richard Sneed. “This structure will increase the property tax base to the county. The EBCI is a member of the Council of government Southwestern Commission and without fail every single meeting that we have, number one top priority housing. Number one housing, number two access to broadband Wi-Fi, etc.”

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The plot on which the subdivision is planned is artificially subdivided by Camp Creek Road. About 29 acres lie on the west side of the road and 160 on the east side. Nearly 78 acres on the east side of the 188-acre property have been sectioned off as a protected non-buildable area. No construction is allowed to take place in this portion of the lot, though trails are permitted for recreation. 

The portion of the property that is planned as a protected area is the steepest part of the property with an average slope of 45%. Under Jackson County’s subdivision ordinance, if the average slope of a property is above 35%, there is a graduating scale of minimum lot size per dwelling. By removing the 78-acre piece of land, the average slope of the east side of the property drops to 31%, allowing for normal density standards. 

“The subdivision is required to provide a minimum 20% open space as well,” said John Jeleniewski, senior planner for Jackson County. “The applicant is providing approximately 38% of open space for this development.”

Sewer and water utilities for the entire development will be provided by EBCI. According to Jeleniewski, traveling utilities will come down from the boundary. Because much of it will be a pressurized line, there is an area on the development site for a pump station. Whatever is collected from the development will go to the pump station and then up to the EBCI facility for treatment. 

“The project itself would bring utilities out to the Camp Creek area with no burden on the County taxpayers,” said Sneed. 

Additionally, fire service would be provided in part by the EBCI. The boundary has a mutual aid agreement with Jackson, Swain and Haywood counties. 

“Fire service would be provided; the tribe has 36 full-time firefighters that would be provided at no cost to the county as well,” said Sneed. “We’re also talking at this time about expanding our footprint for Balsam West and Cherokee broadband and we will be bringing broadband and Wi-Fi access to this area as well.”

Residents speaking in public comment before the staff presentation on the subdivision during the planning board meeting Thursday, Dec. 8, expressed concerns about increased traffic on Camp Creek Road. Camp Creek Road is a state-maintained road. The Jackson County subdivision ordinance can only monitor the construction of roads within a development. 

“For the Camp Creek section, DOT is the entity that’s responsible for reviewing impacts to their roadway and how and under what conditions they’ll allow property to drive the current connection,” said Poston. “What our county ordinance speaks more towards is how those vehicles access within the development. So, with that in mind, that’s what our subdivision ordinance does is it’s designed to look at how vehicles are going to move in and throughout the proposed development and that’s why we have the road standards that we have.”  

According to EBCI staff, preliminary results from NCDOT show that Camp Creek Road would not require any widening and is sufficient to handle traffic flow. Plans for the development include multiple ingress and egress points with road widening as well as turn medians throughout the area where the development abuts Camp Creek. 

The Jackson County Planning Board approved plans for the Camp Creek Subdivision under the condition that all proposed site construction be in accordance with the Jackson County Unified Development Ordinance, all other applicable county ordinances, final engineered site construction plans and development agreement when approved by the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. The development agreement should come before the planning board for review and recommendation in January. 

“As you can see, the community is well planned and well designed,” said Sneed. “It’s a comprehensive design that exceeds the requirements of the county. The Eastern Band is here to bring value both to be a partner and a good neighbor to the county.” 

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  • The EBCI don’t take care of the own land why allow them to destroy this part of Jackson County. Drive around any development on the reservation and it’s a pig sty. Just look at what they are doing on cooper creek with growing weed. It looks like a prison.

    posted by David Shepler

    Friday, 12/16/2022

  • I know the original intent was that these units be reserved for enrolled members and tribal employees. I hope they stick to that plan. When homes are snatched up by sketchy investment groups or snowbirds that doesn't help ANY locals.

    posted by David Yellsatclouds

    Friday, 12/16/2022

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