The Transylvania Times -

Residents Speak Out Against Tinsley Road Project


March 20, 2017

A proposed low-income housing development off Tinsley Road in Brevard was met with an unfavorable response during a neighborhood compatibility meeting Thursday held by the city’s Planning Department.

“About 14 people from the general vicinity of Tinsley Road area came for public input, and no one was in favor of it,” said Paul Ray, the department’s senior code enforcement officer.

Ray said the development calls for 80 apartments, ranging from one to three bedrooms. The 14.76 acres of land is owned by Mars Hill University and is currently zoned General Residential 6. Ray said the area would need to be rezoned to a higher density for the current project to go ahead.

In addition, for the developer to build on the land, the city would need to amend its steep slope protection ordinance, said Ray.

According to the Planning Department’s staff report, it would “allow for City Council to waive restrictions on development of steep slope areas with an average of 25 percent or greater when the applicant is proposing to build affordable housing within the city limits as part of a planned development district.”

“The community’s biggest concern was the density of the land near them that would increase and the steep slope protection,” Ray said.

In an email, Larry Tinsley, who said his family has lived on the farm near the proposed development site since 1857, listed several concerns.

“This is a very scenic neighborhood,” Tinsley said. “People tell us that they drive by here, and walk by here, just because it is so serene. Adding a minimum of 120 cars (the proposed number was 160, but the developer said they have lowered it to 120) on this road will already be dangerous.”

Tinsley said there is already a “considerable” wait at the red light at the end of the road in the morning and evening, and that adding additional cars will create more traffic congestion.

“School buses travel this road twice in the morning and three times in the afternoon,” Tinsley said. “The road is less than 2 miles long and has seven curves. Five of them are blind. Buses will often have to wait before they can go around the curves if they know a car is coming, and additional traffic will create more danger.”

Tinsley said the proposed entrance and exit for the requested neighborhood is a “terrible location.”

“The curve above it is already a site for accidents,” Tinsley said. “It is a blind, tight curve, and if any cars come around that curve with any excessive speed, which is not unusual, there is not time to stop if a car is pulling out from the proposed site.”

Tinsley also said if the hill, which he added is “almost a mountain,” is lowered, then the community will get noise from town.”

Another concern he addressed is a fear of losing the community’s “character.”

“Building a four-story building in this neighborhood is so very out of character with the existing structures,” Tinsley said. “Also, the building code would require streetlights on all the proposed streets which would significantly light up the area.”

Tinsley said the residents of the community aren’t opposed to affordable housing.

“We just oppose it adjacent to this historic farm, in particular this scenic area, and because of the danger of added traffic,” he said. “There are other areas that are currently for sale without moving a mountain.”

Jim Yamin, president of Workforce Homestead, Inc., which has proposed the development, said he’s heard these concerns from residents while working on other similar developments in Lenoir, Franklin and Morganton, N.C.

“There were no surprises for me at the meeting,” Yamin said. “It’s important for these residents to express their concerns and anxieties to me as the developer directly, and I think as I continue to engage with the residents and the city that I’ll be able to address a lot of these concerns, and I’m hopeful that the city will agree.”

Yamin believes the roads can support additional traffic with the help of traffic enforcement and property management.

“I think these are manageable challenges,” Yamin said. “And we’ve got a real opportunity to meet a clear need for affordable housing in Brevard and in Transylvania County.”

Coty Ferguson, who works for Fisher Realty and is a representative on the Brevard Board of Adjustments and Appeal, said Yamin has a great proposal.

“The city has made statements in the past that they want to work with developers and promote affordable housing,” Ferguson said. “I think if the city doesn’t move forward with the proposal for the Tinsley Road site, they don’t move forward with affordable housing, and that’s scary.”

At 6 p.m., Tuesday, Aaron Bland, a planner and assistant zoning administrator with the city, will be presenting the proposed text amendment to the Planning Board, after which Ray will present the planned development district.

“The Planning Board will vote on both separately,” Ray said. “They may require more information for taking it to City Council on April 24, but, either way, Mr. Yamin won’t be able to build at this location without that text amendment successfully passing at city council.”


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