By Derek McKissock
News Editor 

City Council To Decide On Brevard Place - Brevard NC

 

Tennessee stone will be used on the proposed Bojangles in Brevard. The stone is also used on the student housing on the property. (Courtesy graphic)

Despite some reservations, the Brevard Planning Board last week unanimously approved the preliminary master plan for the former Rodeway Inn site on the Asheville Highway and nearby properties.

The board also approved phase one of the final master plan for the site, which includes the building of a Bojangles restaurant and the Brevard College student housing. The board's recommendations will now go before City Council on Sept. 4 for a public hearing and possible final decision.

Planning Board Chairman Gary Daniel said he was voting to approve the project despite it not meeting the city's 2002 Land Use Plan, which calls for the site to be a "mixed use boulevard."

This designation includes "more efficient use of land; landscaping; improved appearance; and design standards which encourage buildings to be close to the street, with parking to the side or areas....Standard strip commercial centers should be discouraged."

"It's basically a strip mall with a Bojangles in it," Daniel said of the proposed site. "I'm not seeing how this fits (the city's land-use plan)."

Daniel said developers who come to the city don't want to "follow the (city's) Unified Development Ordinance (UDO)."

"On one hand I want to see (the project) work, but on the other hand, how many years have we been working on the plans -for the vision for the city of Brevard," he said. "And now the first person who comes along we throw it out the window."

Daniel's concerns were shared by other planning board members, but approval was viewed as a trade off.

Board member Norah Davis said she was "sympathetic" to the "boulevard" concept, but the site is "challenging" topographically.

She said the Bojangles needs parking in the front, just like other fast food restaurants because of the drive through and couldn't be competitive otherwise.

She said the city also needs the jobs and the tax revenue. Board member Seyl Park agrees the development doesn't "fit" with the city's land-use plan but it does complement the kind of businesses already on that "strip" of the Asheville Highway.

"It's what is already there to a certain degree," he said.

Project Details

The city and the property's developers, Sonoma Commercial Properties of Charlotte, and Brevard Partners of Tennessee, are going through a Planned Development District (PDD) process for the project, which is called Brevard Place. The PDD allows the city and a property owner/developer to negotiate certain conditions for the property.

Through this process, by allowing certain deviations/concessions from the city's development rules, the city, in turn, has the "expectation that the community will receive a higher quality product."

When the planning board discussed the proposed project during its July meeting, it identified five main areas of concern it wanted addressed: • Under the UDO, parking is not allowed in the front for new commercial buildings.

Front parking is shown on the Brevard Place master plan.

• The proposed buffering and landscaping didn't meet UDO requirements.

• Traffic access management and curb cut concerns, based on a traffic impact study, needed to be addressed.

• Specific details of signage, other than for Bojangles, had not been submitted.

• No acceptable plan for required open space to accompany the student housing has been submitted.

At its July meeting, the planning board asked for these issues to be resolved before it could approve the plans.

At last week's meeting, City Planner Daniel Cobb said the developers had addressed the buffering, landscaping and signage issues. The open space for the student housing will be located behind the "L-shaped" building off Chestnut Street.

Other issues, including stormwater and the specific appearance and dimensions of the Bojangles, had also been take care of, Cobb said.

Cobb said traffic management concerns still need to be addressed, specifically the number of curb cuts for the property off the Asheville Highway.

The developers want the site to have three entrances: the one that currently serves the Wells Fargo bank; one roughly opposite where Mr. Pete's is located (and where the developers will pay for a traffic light) and a third "right in, right out only" curb cut nearer to the student housing. Staff wants a written analysis showing the impact these curb cuts could have and whether the third one, in particular, is justified.

As part of the PDD process, the city asked for and will receive dedication of the floodplain property behind Mr. Pete's for stream restoration and right-of-way for a possible road in the future. Cobb told the planning board the location of parking on the site is a "policy question" it needed to answer.

Sharon Thurner, president of Sonoma Properties, said parking in the front is a "safety issue," but she said they would be willing to put in more landscaping in the parking areas.

She said they are "open to suggestions" about how to make the second phase of the project, which includes a larger retail strip, more "aesthetically pleasing."

Davis suggested the retail strip having a second floor.

The developers, Thurner said, spent $80,000 on Tennessee stone to improve the outside appearance of the student housing.

"No one asked us to do that," Thurner said.

The same stone will be used on the Bojangles and other buildings on the site. At this point, Thurner wouldn't reveal what other specific businesses could come to the site, but she has been talking to local businesses abouts relocating, as well as new businesses.

"We want to make it nice for the community," she said. "We want to be good neighbors."

The board's approval of the project noted that it was inconsistent with the city's land-use plan and that more landscaping and additional aesthetic measures should be considered for the second phase, including less parking in the front.

The traffic impact issues were another recommended condition of approval.

 
 

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