Since it was proposed three months ago, a condo development project north of Beaver Lake and the Country Club of Asheville has sparked controversy among local residents. This week, the Florida-based developer has withdrawn its proposal.
Dubbed the Cornerstone development, the plans called for multifamily development amounting to 184 condo units, as well as 12 single family residences and green space, on a 114-acre parcel along the Woodfin-Asheville border at Elk Mountain Scenic Highway.
While no one in Asheville debates the need for additional area housing, the location of the development sparked concern. The average slope of the property is close to 50%, with elevations ranging from 2,300 feet to higher than 3,000 feet. While Asheville has steep slope ordinances in place, neighboring Woodfin does not have such strict requirements. The fact that in 2010 the owner asked for the property to be annexed into Woodfin sparked rumors that the developers were actively trying to get around Asheville’s development rules.
Shortly thereafter, hundreds of people across North Asheville and Woodfin formed the Citizens for Responsible Land Use (CRLU) to promote conservation-oriented land-use policies, with the Cornerstone development serving as their primary driving issue. The CRLU collected over 1,000 signatures in its online petition opposing the development.
Locals voiced a variety of concerns about the development, from aesthetics to public safety and environmental concerns. At the Woodfin Planning & Zoning Board meeting on April 4, shortly after the project was announced, Lakeview Park residents cited concerns about erosion and stormwater management, the danger of landslides, increased traffic and emergency access on narrow roads, the impact on wildlife, and several others.
Local land planner Bob Grasso conceded to the property’s steep slope, but countered by demonstrating that the development’s plans are well within zoning guidelines for density (10%), impermeable surfaces (12%), and greenspace (101 acres).
Nevertheless, Lakeview Park residents announced on June 25 that the developer would be backing out of the deal in response to public opposition to the project.
“Developers want to be good neighbors and this was I think a move on their part to recognize the fact that the neighborhood didn’t want it there,” said Bob Mock, a CRLU board member, to WLOS News 13. “I don’t think it’s necessarily that people didn’t want more houses in their backyard—I think what they didn’t want was 200 condominiums in their backyard.”
The Woodfin property was under contract to Florida-based Asheville Builders, LLC, with the sale contingent on receiving planning approval from the town. Now that the developer has pulled out of the project, the future of the parcel remains unannounced.
The proposed Cornerstone development in relation to Lakeview Park and Beaver Lake. Graphic from the CRLU website.