Future of the Coggins Farms Property

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Residents worry about Buncombe development

Plan for 300 homes in eastern Buncombe

www.citizen-times.com

ASHEVILLE — Residents living near land proposed for development in eastern Buncombe County raised concerns Wednesday over traffic and other potential problems.

About 60 people met at the Riceville Fire Department for an introduction to the development proposal, which calls for building about 300 homes and 50 rental units on rural land near Warren Wilson College.

Traffic in the area already gets congested around peak times, some residents said.

Developer David Case attended the meeting and listened to the questions and concerns.

“We want to be good neighbors,” he said.

Copper Coggins, who is attempting to sell the land, said it’s time to let go of the property, which she has owned since the 1970s, although it’s been in the family for more than 200 years.

She was trying to sell it for about a year and a half before Case came along. She described him as a “pragmatic progressive” that listens well.

“This guy has great integrity and great transparency and I’m selling it to the best possible developer,” said Coggins. “I think we could have done a lot worse.”

The developers want to change the zoning from residential to public service, which would allow a greater variety of uses, including commercial ones. He said the property would be designed thoughtfully in order to maintain the rural and attractive scenery.

Case said the change in zoning would be to accommodate a farm-to-table restaurant, but the change in zoning would affect a small part of the project. He said the majority of the homes would sell for less than $300,000 and that some smaller homes would sell in the mid-$100,000 range.

Concern about zoning was the reason AJ Calvillo attended the meeting. She said the question-and-answer session did not alleviate her concerns and that she was disappointed in the presentation.

The request for a change in the zoning is slated to happen at a county planning board meeting Monday.

Glenn Walters, of Design Studio, fielded many of the questions about the proposed development as he presented.

“It’s a lot of change and the property has been here for a long time,” he said. “You have to expect people are going to be very interested.”

The project could take up to 10 years to complete.

Buncombe board backs Riceville development

Some neighbors oppose proposed project

www.citizen-times.com

ASHEVILLE — A county board unanimously endorsed Monday a proposed development of nearly 400 residences on Old Farm Road in Riceville despite opposition from a number of neighbors.

The county Board of Adjustment and Board of Commissioners will have to agree before the project called Old Coggins Farm can move forward.

Members of the Buncombe County Planning Board said Monday the project contains features the board and the public have said are desirable in developments.

That includes reserving half the 169-acre tract as open space, offering many of the homes at moderate prices and putting residential and commercial uses within walking distance, member Josh Holmes said.

“It’s everything we’ve asked for,” he said.

Plans call for 382 housing units, most of them single-family homes. The proposal also includes 50,000 square feet of office and retail space and a 22,000-square-foot private school on what is now mostly rolling farm and forest land with only a few homes.

Much of the property would be reserved for what developers say would be a community-supported farm that would supply residents and a farm-to-table restaurant on the property.

The office space would include what developers call an “innovation center” designed to incubate new businesses.

Home prices would start at about $175,000 and more than half would sell for less than $300,000, one of the developers told the board Monday. Sixty of the housing units would be in a facility for senior citizens.

Residents of nearby neighborhoods said the resulting traffic would be too much for the area and the project would change its rural character. They worried that rezoning about 108 acres of the property from residential zoning to public service as developers request would allow a wide variety of commercial uses if Old Coggins Farm plans are not implemented.

“This development would be a major and disastrous disruption to the community that we have already established through the years,” said resident Laura Cruser. She said residents “live there because it is isolated, because it is rural. We don’t want to live next to restaurants and schools.”

Traffic will be so heavy that “people will never be able to get in and out of River Run (subdivision) in the morning or the evening. It will just be a log jam,” Bernard Schechter said.

Resident Bill Punshon said that if plans do not work out, the rezoning developers requested “may result in a lot of things that we do not want in that part of the county.”

Developers will have another meeting with community residents in January outside the governmental approval process, said Andy Baker, a member of the development team.

“We understand there’s a lot of concern. … It’s change, and we understand that,” he said.

An engineer working on the project said a traffic study of the plans found traffic would move well on area roads after completion.

“Obviously, you put more people in there, there’s going to be more traffic,“ engineer Mark Brooks said. Improvements will be needed at the intersection at the entrance to the development, he said.

But he said the projected rating of traffic flow after the development is built would be “still very acceptable and not bad by (state Department of Transportation) standards.”

The property’s current residential zoning would allow up to 12 dwelling units per acre, or a total of more than 2,000, county staff told the board, but only limited commercial uses.

Public service zoning provides for a much wider range of commercial activities.

Board Chairman Tom Alexander said it is difficult for the board to consider what might happen if the development flops.

“We can’t forecast how viable 10 years down the road the developer will be. If we were to take that into account, we wouldn’t develop anything,” he said.

The board Monday approved the master plan for Old Coggins Farm and detailed plans for the first section to be developed.

The rezoning request will go to the Board of Commissioners for a final decision and the county Board of Adjustment’s OK is also needed for overall plan.

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