Council OKs Housing Development – Brevard, NC


Last updated 9/23/2020 at 3:51pm

Tore Borhaug, owner of Tore's Home, Inc., stands where his mixed-use development will be constructed off Deerlake Road in Brevard, with the Deerlake Village on the other side. (Times photo by Matt McGregor)

On Monday, Brevard City Council unanimously voted to approve Option A of the proposed Tore's Home residential apartment complex that will be located along Deerlake Road, near the Deerlake Village residential community.

In previous meetings, Tore Borhaug the applicant and owner of Tore's Home, Inc., described the project as an "intergenerational-independent living community," which, he said, will "allow Tore's Home to offer another care level to complement their current assisted living and extended/memory/end-of-life care facilities," as well as address the city's need for workforce housing, plans for which are included in the development.

The complex will house residents, staff and provide what Borhaug described as "reasonably priced housing" to workers, such as teachers and law enforcement.

In a special meeting on Sept. 3, council inspected the site of the proposed complex and voted to put Option B on the agenda for the Sept. 21 meeting.

Option B included several reductions in apartments and two buildings, compared to Option A, and would have kept the area zoned at General Residential 8 (GR8), which was one of the arguments of the Deerlake Village residents, who wanted to keep the area zoned at GR8.

Option B also called for the housing to be only used for Borhaug's staff. Option A calls for other workforce housing at the site.

In October 2019, Borhaug filed plans for the 17-acre, mixed-use development to be approved as a planned development district (PDD). A PDD is a form of conditional rezoning in which the developer and the city negotiate site-specific development standards for a project that are codified in a stand-alone ordinance.

Option A called for 46 duplexes: four, four-unit multifamily structures; three multistory residential buildings totaling 80 apartments; a community building; day care; office building; multiuse path extension; and associated site and infrastructure-related improvements. The initial density requested in the PDD was 11.2 units per acre, but GR8 only allows for up to eight units per acre.

City Attorney Michael Pratt said Monday that as an amendment to the ordinance in the plan, Borhaug would provide a 15-foot-wide right-of-way, with the exception that the city would build the right-of-way and pave up to 10 feet of that width.

Deerlake Village residents have protested Borhaug's application, citing alleged property value deflation and traffic congestion.

On his vote for Option A, Councilman Gary Daniel said that by eliminating the apartments for general occupancy of the workforce population that "does away with the whole point of a planned development.

"Without that, I would rather just do it by right, quite frankly," Daniel said. "We do need housing for the people who work in our community. It's something that I personally feel like we need to be very active about, and this is a case where it can happen."

Councilman Mac Morrow agreed and remembered when Borhaug built his first development on Gallimore Road, for which Morrow said there was also opposition.

Morrow said the city has since learned how to build it better.

"But I want to say what a blessing it is because I am closer to that development than anybody at Deerlake will be to this development, and my neighbor was able to move over there, be in her own neighborhood, and she's been there 10 years," Morrow said. "I don't know that there is a peep about it now. I'm a fan. I've known Tore and his dream for a long time, and I've watched him roll with it. Are we not fortunate to have someone who is willing to do some housing, with no federal red tape or cost to any government? I mean, really? And we are sitting here debating it? Honestly. It's an opportunity."

Morrow added the city needs local investors to "fight for workforce housing."

"Don't let this opportunity fall because we are scared of the possibilities," Morrow said.

Councilwoman Geraldine Dinkins said her questioning of Borhaug has been mischaracterized as criticism against the project.

"I've seen these kinds of projects work in Europe, and I'm excited for Brevard to have a project like this," Dinkins said. "It is infill, it is centrally located, it's affordable housing for workers, which we need in our community. I also think that it is an asset that Tore is a local, that he has roots here. And I do believe that you don't want to soil the nest you dwell in, so I do believe that he is sincere when he says he wants this community to work. The bike path is another aspect that we are getting an easement there. So it does have my vote as is. However, I did want to see if we could add a few things to it."

Dinkins said when Borhaug asked for flexibility, it causes worry that could be assuaged if conditions were requested for the phases of construction.

Morrow said it's Borhaug's business plan and that "it's not up to (him) to question his business."

"I'm not here to judge his business plan up or down," Morrow said. "I trust him. We've seen what he does. He's local investor. He's not someone from New Jersey."

Dinkins said, "That's what I just said. I agree with you on that. I'm still wondering if the conditions could be added that would make it codified that outdoor spaces have to be developed within the phases of the apartment."

Morrow said that this might be a "technical matter."

Pratt said, "Of course, the conditions need to be specified."

With the motion (made by Morrow and seconded by Daniel) on the floor to approve Option A, Pratt said Morrow and Daniel would have to agree to those conditions.

Morrow asked Dinkins, "Would you be willing that the language, that the conditions and the intent of your conditions be left up to the developer that are suitable, feasible and acceptable to meet whatever you are saying you need? Could it be up to the developer to make a commitment to that what you are a saying is whatever they are?"

Then, Borhaug said, "Guys, I can make this very simple. Draw the motion. Add that I will build a community building before I build apartment buildings two, three and four. I'm not going to make any money on those buildings; it's as simple as that."

Pratt said that would require an amendment to the motion, to which both Morrow and Daniel agreed.

Copelof said she was pleased to see the addition that Dinkins requested.

"The whole point of these negotiations are too make sure we get down to the facts with those hard questions that we will ask, and we will continue to ask, but I'm happy to see that accommodation and some degree of compromise can be reached in terms of what I thought was a very important thing, which was that community center and those amenities, so that we really are creating a community, and not just a lot of apartment complexes," Copelof said.


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