Greenway Trail Project Underway

This spring the Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway will launch a project to improve eight sections of the greenway path impacted by rainfall and erosion. The project area will include sections of trail from the Shelburne Road trailhead to portions of the trail near the “beach”.

The objective of the trail project is to redesign, improve, and reroute sections of trail to create a sustainable pathway that reduces erosion and improves the trail user experience.

The project is funded by a grant from Buncombe County Recreational Services and funds from members and donors of the Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway.  Wildlands Engineering, Inc. is providing an in-kind donation to design and manage the project.  The City of Asheville, Asheville GreenWorks, and Asheville on Bikes will provide guidance and resources.

The estimated cost of the project is $25,000.

Construction will begin in April 2021 and continue throughout the summer.

The Problem

Over the last several years, heavy rainfall, gravity and increased traffic on the greenway has accelerated erosion. 2020 was Asheville’s fourth wettest on record. As a result, frequent wet and muddy trail conditions have blocked access and a network of unsustainable trails has formed.

Runoff from higher elevations tends to settle on sections of the trail. An increase in the volume of users over time causes the wet trail surface to pack and settle. The impact forms ruts on the trail that catch and hold water during rains. Rather than flowing across the trail, water rushes down the pathway. Over time, water channeling down the trail gains velocity and energy, washing away more soil and cutting deeper into the trail. The combination of forces compounds the rate of erosion. As trail conditions degrade, water is held on the path longer. The results are impassable sections of trail following heavy rainfall or periods of sustained precipitation.

The Solution

The Friends of Hominy Creek, in collaboration with Wildlands Engineering, has developed a plan that will improve sections of the trail, address drainage, and reroute sections of trail. FOHCG volunteer and civil engineer, Jake McLean of Wildlands Engineering, is the lead designer. In addition to Jake’s personal time, Wildlands Engineering is donating time and equipment to design and supervise construction.

The plan involves raising the trail in several areas; creating swales, levies, and other elements to capture, store and redirect rainfall and runoff. A portion of the project will re-slope the access road at the Shelburne trailhead and redirect runoff from the roadway. Several sections of the trail will also be resurfaced. 

Contact Information:

For more information about the project or concerns, contact former FOHCG president Jack Igelman. He can be reached at jack@igelman.com

Please welcome our new board members

The Friends of Hominy Creek would like to welcome our new trustees: Alex Blue and Christopher Arbor. We would also like to express our gratitude to the service of two outgoing board members, Renee Fortner and Nancy Watford.

Nancy Watford is a founding board member of the FOHCG and played a leading role in securing a $25,000 grant from Buncombe County that funded invasive plant removal and the construction of kiosks, information signs, and our work shed. In addition, Nancy has helped bring the vision of the organization into function. Thank you for your service Nancy.

Among her many contributions to the Hominy Creek Greenway, Renee Fortner took charge of our volunteer program and led countless volunteer work days on the greenway. Among the volunteer projects she coordinated was improving the landscape surrounding the work shed by planting native species and removing invasive plants. Renee has also played a crucial role in keeping the vision of the organization alive. Thank you for your service Renee.

Alex Blue joined the board of trustees in November, 2019 and is from Eastern North Carolina. She came to Asheville to attend UNC Asheville and graduated in 2017 with a degree in environmental science. While attending school she completed a fellowship with the local environmental nonprofit, RiverLink. She later returned to Riverlink to complete a year service as the organization’s AmeriCorp Volunteer Coordinator. Alex currently works for the horticulture department at the Biltmore Estate where she removes non-native invasive plants and preserves native & natural landscapes. Alex also has the cutest hound dog in Asheville named Ruby. On a sunny spring day you can find Ruby and Alex floating down the French Broad River.

Christopher Arbor joined the board of trustees in November 2019.  He was born in the North Carolina Piedmont but knew from a young age that the mountains would always be his home. He attended summer camp outside of Brevard, enrolled at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, then transferred to UNC Asheville.  After graduating, he enrolled in AmeriCorps, and while he could travel anywhere in the United States; he opted to stay in Asheville. Since then he’s taught English at The Outdoor Academy and World Studies at the Asheville School. During breaks from work, you can find him fighting non-native invasive plant species, planting trees, and running through the woods.

Crossroads development application WITHDRAWN

Exciting news regarding the Crossroads development. The developers have withdrawn the proposal.

We’ll keep the community updated on future plans for the site. There is speculation that the developers will resubmit another proposal in the future.

Stay tuned.

Here is the latest story from the Asheville Citizen-Times regarding the proposal:

https://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2020/01/06/crossroads-west-asheville-application-pulled-project-dead-now/2827359001/

Crossroads development: decision postponed

The Buncombe County Board of Adjustments postponed a decision on the Crossroads development until the January meeting. After 7.5 hours of testimony, additional time was needed.

See the Asheville Citizen-Times coverage of the marathon meeting:

Maybe the fourth time will be the charm?

After a marathon seven-and-a-half-hour meeting on Dec. 11, mostly on the proposed 802-unit Crossroads at West Asheville apartment complex, the Board of Adjustment agreed to continue the quasi-judicial hearing on the proposal to January.

The meeting convened at noon but the official hearing didn’t start until almost 1 p.m. By 7:30 p.m., the board had heard from a slew of experts and nearby residents offering sworn testimony, as well as detailed questioning by both sides’ lawyers. When it became clear the hearing — not to mention public comment and board deliberations — would continue for several more hours, Chairman Martin Moore suggested postponement.

“Even if we’re going at this pace, there’s a good chance we’re going to be here until 1 o’clock in the morning,” Moore said.

Board Member George Lycan said the proposal, which also calls for 14,400 square feet of retail space, 50,400 square feet of office space and 64,000 square feet of self-storage, is “the biggest project we’ve ever had in this county.

“It’s very complex — it’s upwards of half a billion dollars,” Lycan said. “It’s just too important to rush this and run into heavy fatigue and work until we’re all worn out, and not do it properly for both sides of this issue.”

So, the Board of Adjustment, which has the final say on the project, will hold a special session at 9 a.m. Jan. 23.

The proposal has been controversial, with neighbors and residents of nearby Malvern Hills saying it’s just too large, will drastically increase traffic and could have negative environmental impacts, including harm to Hominy Creek.

At the hearing, developers said they are addressing water runoff concerns with retention ponds and by building a mile of public greenway through the project. Also, siting the 20 buildings away from the creek and leaving 42% of the property undisturbed will reduce the environmental impact, they said.

The 68-acre property, bordered by South Bear Creek and Sand Hill roads and Interstate 240, lies just outside the Asheville city limits. Buncombe County has it zoned “public service,” which allows for apartments. But that is a conditional use that requires board approval.

Read the full article HERE.

Community Open House – Crossroads project

On December 2 the developers hosted a community open house for the proposed Crossroads at West Asheville project.

You can read an article about that meeting in the Asheville Citizen-Times. The headline is “Crossroads plan gains little favor with neighbors”.

From the article:

A proposed major development remains a tough sell to nearby residents, many of whom are opposed to the project’s size and scope, even after hearing about its backstory and some plan changes.

At a Dec. 2 community meeting — the second on the Crossroads at West Asheville proposal — developers remained firm that they’ll build 802 apartment units…

The proposal will return  to the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment — for a third and supposedly final time — on Dec. 11. The appointed board will hold a quasi-judicial hearing on the project and likely make a final decision then…

On Dec. 2, about three dozen local residents attended the community meeting at Crossroads Asheville church. While a few expressed ambivalence about the project, many made it clear they’re still not happy with the its scale and potential impacts on traffic and the nearby Hominy Creek.

Developers listened and exchanged viewpoints with neighbors, but they remained committed to that 802-unit figure, which opponents say makes it the largest apartment development in Western North Carolina.

You can also read a letter to “whom it may concern” regarding the project from the developer.

CatCap Crossroads info 12-2-19

Community Open House Dec 2, 4 – 6 pm

The developers of Crossroads will be hosting a public information open house to discuss the project.

The meeting will be help Monday, December 22 from 4 – 6 pm on the Crossroads property.

From a letter dated November 22:

On behalf of Catalyst Capital Partners, this letter serves as a notification that there will be a second voluntary informational community open house meeting to discuss the proposed project at 20 South Bear Creek Rd. This letter has been sent to all property owners within 1,000 feet of the subject property.
The informal open house is scheduled for Monday, December 2nd from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The meeting will be located on-site at the property and include a short walking tour of the property. We suggest parking at the Crossroads Church at 20 S. Bear Creek, Asheville, NC 28806 and then walking to the Meeting Location (covered pavilion) as outlined on the map below. After a short walking tour (and the sun sets), Room 109 at the Crossroads Church will be made available for further discussions.

 

Copies of the proposed project area and designs will be on display. Members of the development and design teams will be present to answer questions regarding the proposed development.

 

A map of the property is below with site of the pavillion.

Asheville Citizen-Times reporting on Crossroads permit delay

A clip from the story:

Sometimes it takes nearly three hours to hit the pause button.

On Nov. 13, the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment took two hours and 45 minutes to unanimously vote to postpone until Dec. 11 a hearing on a controversial apartment complex, Crossroads at West Asheville. An overflow crowd of about 125 people attended the meeting in the Buncombe County Administration building — with another 100 watching online in another room — as well as a slew of experts, engineers and county staffers.

While the development company, Catalyst Capital Partners of Charlotte, opposed the continuance, the board postponed the hearing because the plans for the 802-unit complex have changed. Neighbors opposed to the project need more time to consult with expert witnesses and to receive final numbers on traffic impacts.

The developer is seeking a conditional use permit for the site, planned for 68 acres on South Bear Creek Road near the Malvern Hills neighborhood in West Asheville. Plans call for 802 total living units, mostly apartments, as well as 14,400 square feet of retail space, 50,400 square feet of office space and 64,000 square feet of self-storage.

Bob Oast and Lou Bissette, attorneys for the development company, argued that holding the hearing Nov. 13 was indeed a matter of fairness, in this case to their client. Bissette contended the changes actually lessened the impact of the development, noting that the developer started working on the project about a year ago.

“They met with well over 50 different groups; they met continuously with the DOT and the county,” Bissette said. “During that time, my clients were going out of their way to take public input from neighbors, the DOT, from the city.”

At this point, he was interrupted by jeers from the crowd, with one man shouting, “Tell the truth!” Some in attendance contended they were never notified of a public meeting with the developer.

For the entire story visit the AC-T website at this LINK.

Decision on Crossroads development delayed

Reporting from WLOS on November 13, 2019

Representatives for a massive mixed-used development proposed for West Asheville will have to wait until December to find out if they’ll be given a conditional use permit by the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment.

Residents packed the conference room in the building to listen in or speak up. So many people showed up, some were forced to go upstairs and watch a live stream.

Attorneys representing residents, Malvern Hills Neighborhood Association and the city of Asheville argued the development would cause special damages to their properties nearby, including the Hominy Creek Greenway. Those damages include flooding, erosion, degradation of water quality and traffic impacts, among others. After the board unanimously agreed the attorneys claims did have legal standing, the attorney representing the residents asked for a continuance.

The board ultimately agreed the residents and community needed additional time to review the changes and their potential impacts. The proposed development will be reviewed for its conditional use permit on Dec. 11 in the conference room at 200 College St. New notices will be sent to residents within 1,000 feet of the site, and information will be posted to the Buncombe County website.

Below is a link to their coverage. FOHCG board of trustees president Bryan Tomes is interviewed in the piece:

FOHCG Changes Position, Opposes Crossroads Development

The Board of Trustees of the Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway, Inc. has changed its position regarding the Crossroads at West Asheville development. The board’s new position opposes the current plan to develop the Crossroads at West Asheville development due to its negative impact on Hominy Creek and the Hominy Creek Greenway. 

The original position of the board of trustees did not oppose the project, but expressed concerns regarding various elements of the design and its impact.

Following meetings and correspondence with the developers, FOHCG, Inc. president said the board of trustees altered its stance from concern about the project to opposing the current design.

“There has been no movement by the developers to consider a larger assessment of what a sustainable and progressive residential development might look like on the banks of Hominy Creek. It’s become increasingly clear that the developers perceive the limits of their development is appropriately defined by Buncombe County regulations,” said Tomes. “From a beauty, traffic, and environmental stewardship perspective the regional regulations do not meet a standard to be considered an appropriate baseline for a development with the scope and impact on the surrounding community.”


Our statement regarding the Crossroads at West Asheville development

The Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway opposes the current plan to develop the Crossroads at West Asheville development due to its negative impact on Hominy Creek and the Hominy Creek Greenway.

We have multiple concerns with the size and scope of the development:

  • The overall size and scope of the development will have an impact on the viewshed due to the placement and height of the structures.
  • The development is on a unique parcel of land within the Hominy Creek watershed and will impact the water quality due to run off from parking lots and construction.
  • An increase in traffic flow in the surrounding neighborhood will impact public safety among pedestrians who use the Hominy Creek Greenway.

The Friends of Hominy Creek Greenway seek the opportunity to work with the developer, the State of North Carolina, Buncombe County, and the City of Asheville to implement the following:

  • That the developer repair the eroding stream bank on their property and create a substantial buffer of 50 feet or more consisting of deep-rooted woody plants along Hominy Creek to protect it from runoff and bank erosion; and to mitigate thermal and other water quality impacts from the 40 acres of new impervious surface proposed
  • That the developer examine how the size and placement of structures and parking lots will impact the viewshed of users of the Hominy Creek Greenway and adapt their plans to minimize and mitigate the impact on the viewshed.
  • That the developer use low-impact construction practices and building techniques to capture and filter stormwater runoff to minimize the impact on Hominy Creek, and to compliment the proposed ponds with additional and more effective water quality treatment.
  • That Buncombe County require the developer build a section of greenway with adequate bicycle and pedestrian facilities to connect with existing greenways and pedestrian infrastructure.
  • That the developer, Buncombe County and the City of Asheville add and improve pedestrian infrastructure associated with the existing greenway and establish safe bicycle and pedestrian connectivity between the existing and proposed trails. 
  • That the State of North Carolina consider improvements to I-240/I-26 access ramps and an additional access ramp at Bear Creek Road and I-240/I-26 to minimize traffic flow onto side streets in the surrounding community. 

Please contact FOHCG Inc. president Bryan Tomes for comment.

CONTACT: Bryan Tomes, 828-772-5542 or bryantomes@yahoo.com