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Rethink subdivision

To the editor:

Some of us may remember the former tennis champion, John McEnroe, who had the custom of chastising the chair umpire, after a questionable call, with “you cannot be serious!”

After reading “Farmland VS. Sprawl,” I thought to myself his same exact words. The planning board is going to permit 115 homes on 32 acres, with 95% of them on one-sixth to one fifth of an acre.

The anonymous developer is planning to build on pristine farmland off of Raccoon Road, a subdivision (tract homes) that would be totally incongruous with our town’s identity.

There is no doubt that we have a housing shortage (of affordable) homes in Haywood; although according to the town’s Development Services Director, Elizabeth Teague, the homes will be priced in the $300,000-$400,000 range.

I cannot fathom how that price range is deemed “affordable.” The developer, understandably, wants to use the economies of space and cost, to maximize its profits; however, at what cost to the town: aesthetically, infrastructure expenditures, increased traffic off of Raccoon and Ratcliff Cove Road and myriad other sustainable issues.

It appears the planning board was truly not in favor of the plan, but Marty Provost was the only member who had the cahonas to vote no. Barbara Thomas said she “would love to see it done differently, but we don’t really have a choice.”

Yet, Jason Rogers, an expert on the town’s land-use rules and a former member of the planning board argued otherwise, saying “I don’t think their hands were tied. The question is whether anyone is bold enough leadership-wise.”

If Marty Provost was bold enough, how about the other members stepping forward and voting their true feelings, especially if there are existing loopholes that can be changed and possibly vague or ambiguous.

Yes, we need more housing, but there has to be a better way. To add salt to the wound, the planning board wanted a sheltered school bus stop, but the developer’s representative, Patrick Bradshaw with Civic Design Concepts, wasn’t keen on the idea.

If this tract home subdivision is built, others may follow and what makes Waynesville attractive in so many ways shall be eroded. Just recall Pete Seeger’s song from the mid-1960s, “Little Boxes.”

115 homes on 32 acres of farmland. You cannot be serious.

Alan L. Sheinfeld

Waynesville

Two sides of the housing

issue

To the editor:

I read the recent articles (The Mountaineer, Nov. 3) on new housing for Haywood County with interest.

On one hand was the story of the proposed development on Raccoon Road with scores of houses priced between $300,000 and $400,000. I am not sure who will be buying these houses, but it won’t be folks who live and work in Haywood County.

According to the N.C. Department of Commerce, Labor and Economic Analysis, Haywood County’s 2019 median family income was $66,176 and the estimated median value of owner-occupied housing was $179,700.

The need for affordable housing for our county’s work force is not being addressed by the Queen property developers. (Although the increase in property taxes will be a boon for the Town of Waynesville.)

The development will be built and “they [the home buyers] will come.” But they will most likely have jobs in Buncombe, Jackson and Swain counties.

In the meantime, there is some hope for Haywood County workers looking to buy a home. Our neighbors in the Qualla Boundry are building affordable homes here. We should appreciate that some developers, in this case Kituwah Builders, are addressing a housing need not a money-making business venture.

Haywood County already attracts retirees from around the country, many who come and purchase mid-priced housing. (Probably not in a development with small lots.)

These newcomers depend on the services provided by the essential workers who live in Haywood County but have no affordable housing options. This, in my opinion, is an ugly scenario — catering to the well-to-do at the expense of the worker bees.

Mary Thomas

Waynesville

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