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Planning Commission denies Batey farm rezoning

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Residents packed the house Monday night in opposition of a new development being proposed on the Indian Lake peninsula. TENA LEE

The city's growth amid infrastructure concerns once again took center stage to a packed City Hall Monday as the Hendersonville Regional Planning Commission denied a developer's request to rezone property on the Indian Lake peninsula in order to build more houses than allowed by the current zoning.

The request could still be considered by the city's Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Home builder D.R. Horton, who has a contract to purchase 35 acres of former farmland known as the Batey Farm at the corner of Indian Lake Road and East Drive, had requested a SR-1 PD designation rather than the current zoning of SR-1. Currently the builder could construct between 80 to 90 homes on the property with a minimum lot size of 12,500 square feet each.

The SR-1 PD zoning would allow more homes at a density of three homes per acre with a minimum lot size of 7,500-square-feet.

D.R. Horton requested to build 105 homes with lot sizes running between 7,800 and 13,000 square-feet.

The new zoning would also require more open space (25 percent in this case) as well as more design restrictions on the developer, according to Senior City Planner Keith Free.

The trade-offs weren't enough to convince area neighbors nor planning commission members, however, that the proposed plan would be a good fit for the area and wouldn't cause more traffic and infrastructure problems.

"We understand you are obligated by law to consider [this proposal], but the builder has the burden to prove the plan is complementary to the peninsula," said Bay View Drive resident Daniel Olivas. Olivas said he had a petition of more than 300 signatures urging the commission to deny the proposal.

Several residents along East Drive, including resident Greg Price, told planning commission members he and his neighbors already experience recurrent flooding issues in the area, and that the proposed development would only make matters worse.

"We have a real water problem here," he said. "There's also a problem with sink holes in the area."

  1. R. Horton representative Steve Hohulin of Gresham Smith and Partners, said the development will address drainage concerns in the area, citing a retention pond in the southwest corner of the proposed development.

He also pointed to three parks as well as a multi-use walking trail, sidewalks and street landscaping as amenities within the development. Homes would average in size from 2,000 to 3,300-square-feet and in price from $350,000 to $400,000, according to Hohulin.

Any development of this property would require an extension of Berry Hill Drive to East Drive per the city's Land Use and Transportation Plan.

Former Alderman and Planning Commission member Don Ames, who lives in the area, told commissioners the road should be designed before a development is approved. City planning staff acknowledged they have yet to contact a land owner whose property would need to be acquired in order to complete the road through the development.

"We don't know what the cost will be," said Ames. "That needs to be decided. Does the city have the money for that expense? It's important to have all of these questions answered before we agree to up-zone [this property]."

In all more than a dozen residents spoke in opposition to the plan - something that has become almost routine this year at planning commission meetings in which large residential developments have been proposed.

The trend wasn't lost on many planning commission members.

"I don't think there is any mistaking what the temperament is in this room is," said planning commission member Bryant Millsaps. "I'm going to cut to the chase. I have seen no compelling reason that would justify us negating three years' work on our zoning ordinance [to approve this].

"We are hearing more and more from our citizens wondering about ... how much more of the chaos can we endure," added Millsaps, who recommended the proposal be denied.

Commissioner Charles Lea expressed concern about the city's lack of revenue needed for its share of infrastructure for both this development as well as others. He hinted at the possibility of the city implementing an impact fee for developers.

"We would not be doing our due diligence if we continue to approve [these projects] until we have some of these things in place," said Lea.

Two members, Mark Bristol and Frank Pinson, recused themselves from the vote citing business interests with the applicant. Commissioners voted unanimously to deny the project.

The developer may still present its rezoning request to the city's Board of Mayor and Aldermen. It would first have to appear before the city's General Committee that meets next on Aug. 8.

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