December 10, 2015

Background on Proposed Sweeten Creek/Mills Gap Road Apartment Project

PLEASE NOTE THAT PROJECT HAS CHANGED FROM THE PROPOSAL BELOW. For the developer’s most current proposal, and the recommended conditions by the Planning & Zoning Commission agreed to by the developer, please see our post at March 14th Update.

Pulliam Properties is proposing to develop a 272-unit apartment complex at the intersection of Sweeten Creek and Mills Gaps Roads on the site of the old Plasti-form manufacturing plant. This project would be on top of the over 800 apartment units already built or permitted within 2 miles of the proposed apartment complex. The property is currently zoned as “industrial” and the developer needs to have the City change the zoning in order to build the apartment complex.

Pulliam Properties had initially proposed a 256-unit apartment complex with 3 commercial parcels, but after three hours of discussion and debate at its November 19th meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to allow Pulliam to revise its proposal. The City’s Technical Review Committee is now reviewing the revised proposal. It will then go before the City’s Planning & Zoning Commission at its Wednesday, January 6, 2016 meeting and then will go to City Council for the final decision. Assuming that the Planning & Zoning Commission acts on it on January 6th, it could be before City Council as early as January 26, 2016. Public comment is permitted at both the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council meetings. (For those of you not familiar with the Planning & Zoning Commission, the Asheville Citizen-Times just ran a very timely article describing their important role.)

The following are some important facts that we hope the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council members consider:

1. The City’s professional planning staff opposes the rezoning for the proposed project. The City’s Planning Staff Report Recommending Against Zoning Change states, “[S]taff does not find this [rezoning] request to be reasonable or within the best public interest and cannot recommend support of the proposed rezoning as proposed.”

2. The data shows that traffic at this intersection is already terrible. The Developer’s Own Traffic Impact Study for the proposed development states that, “The traffic impact study (TIS) has demonstrated that the transportation infrastructure (roadway network) in the vicinity of this project is at or over capacity during peak periods of the day. The addition of project-generated traffic is expected to exacerbate these conditions.

3. Infrastructure relief is not on the way any time soon. Plans to widen Sweeten Creek and Mills Gap Roads have been delayed and would not even begin until 2021 for Mills Gap Road and 2022 for Sweeten Creek Road at the earliest.

4. Significant numbers of apartments have already recently been built in the South Asheville area with more on the way. In a May 1, 2015, Citizen-Times article about school overcrowding concerns due to new apartments, Rusty Pulliam, the developer in this matter is quoted as saying, “In South Asheville, there’s 2,200 apartments either under construction, in the works or being planned to be built. It has potential to stress the (school) system.” This rapid growth has already taxed South Asheville’s road infrastructure and now may impact our schools.