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Apartment complex just doesn’t fit

To the Editor:

Sylva is a beautiful small town. It is its small-town charm and beautiful surroundings that brings people to Sylva and it is what keeps them here. As a 22-plus year resident of Sylva, it is my passionate belief that the four-story, 84-apartment building project that is being proposed at 710 Skyland Drive does not fit with the statement in the 2040 Land Use Plan (2020) Overview that “Sylva is poised to take advantage of and build upon these assets by planning for and promoting growth while maintaining its small-town form and character.”

While I understand that there may be a need for senior housing, plopping down a 4-story building in the middle of a pasture and paving the entire area does not exactly fit within the style of this mostly single-family community. Perhaps a collection of duplexes or townhomes with some green space, even garden areas so that these seniors (of whom I am one) can remain active, would better suit this neighborhood, if indeed housing is needed. 

As I write this letter, from 91 Magnolia St., I am looking directly at the proposed Skyland site from my front porch. Have you been to our neighborhood? Please come by! This quiet neighborhood, on the eastern edge within Sylva’s city limits is mostly comprised of single-family homes built in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. Right now, I look out at a pasture that gets mowed a couple of times a year, some 80-foot tall pine trees, and through them a beautiful early 20th century home. These will be razed. In the background all around are mountains. There are no tall buildings within sight — or within city limits that I have noticed. It is almost within sight of the hospital, but not quite. Not even the hospital is four stories high. 

Article II, Sec. 38-45, regarding Professional Business District regulations indicates that the maximum structure height is 40 feet, which doesn’t include four-story buildings. In the 2040 Sylva Land Use Plan (2020), this neighborhood is identified as an In-fill Neighborhood, which “are areas of existing low- (2 to 4 units per acre) to medium-density (4 to 12 units per acre) single-family residential uses.” Just this past year, that is how the town decided it wanted to grow in this area, not with multi-story apartments. 

Traffic at the Skyland Drive/Chipper Curve intersection is already awful. The proposed entrance onto Allens Branch will funnel traffic right into that already difficult intersection. The surface of Allens Branch Road is in bad shape, with the edge along the creek crumbling in several places across from the proposed site. The watershed during rains turns Allens Branch Road and Magnolia Street into rivers and my yard into a pond in this “bottom.” 

Add to this the light and noise pollution created by the 84 apartments that will be backing onto/looming over this quiet neighborhood. My newest neighbors just commented on the positive impact on sleep because of how quiet and dark it is at night. If this proposal is approved, it will never be dark here again.  Our view will be of the side of a building instead of the side of a mountain. 

If you will review the 2040 Sylva Land Use Plan (2020) policies below, I think that you will find that the current proposal doesn’t comply. 

• POLICY 4.2: Ensure that the density/intensity of development will be compatible with the general characteristics of the surrounding area in which development is located.

• POLICY 5.2: Guide development to achieve appropriate transitions between different types of land uses.

The Conditional Use Permit application indicates that in order for the zoning board to “grant and issue” the permit they must find that “3. The use will not substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting property…” and “4. The location and character of the proposed use will be in harmony with the area in which it is to be located and in general conformity with the development of the Town and its environs.” That the proposal meets item 3 is questionable, and in no way does it conform or harmonize as expected by  item 4. There must be a better alternative! Please look elsewhere KRP Investments and Town of Sylva.

Kristin Kane

Member, Citizens Against Sylva Tower

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