STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA                                            BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

COUNTY OF HENDERSON                                                                                     MAY 7, 2002


The Henderson County Board of Commissioners met for continuation of the quasi-judicial proceeding for Oleta Falls variance application begun on March 21, 2002 and continued to April 17, 2002.The meeting took place at Oleta Falls Subdivision.


Those present were:  Vice-Chair (Acting Chair) Marilyn Gordon, Commissioner Grady Hawkins, Commissioner Don Ward, Commissioner Charlie Messer, Attorney Angela S. Beeker, and Clerk to the Board Elizabeth W. Corn.


Also present were: Planning Director Karen C. Smith, Assistant County Attorney Jennifer O. Jackson, Fire Marshal/Emergency Management Coordinator Rocky Hyder, and Planner Melissa Peagler.


Absent was Chairman Bill Moyer who had asked to recuse himself from the proceeding earlier.  The Board agreed that the Chairman be recused.



Acting Chairman Gordon reconvened the meeting at approximately 9:15 at the entrance to Oleta Falls Subdivision.  At that time Atty. Craig Justus and A.J. Ball (Petitioner) got in the van with the Commissioners and Staff and rode into the development.



Oleta Falls Variance Application

A.J. Ball - AUh we=ve got 450 acres +/- here.  We=ve got scheduled 79 home sites throughout the development so the fields you see are all open/common space.  We reserved at least 230 acres as common space and that=s part of the restrictions and covenants.  We can=t develop that nor can the homeowners actually take over the responsibility for the development.  Uh the home sites average anywhere from an acre and a third up to ten acres.  And in phase I, which we=re going through now, we just came through, there are 24 home sites and the acreage there is - the largest lot is 2 acres. Uh once we left the top of the hill we=re going into phase II and we have - I can=t remember the exact number it was, I=d have to count em.  Those lots are larger, they=re as high on the mountain in terms of elevation and again we=re looking at anywhere from 3 to 8 acres, depending on location.  Some of them offer tremendous views, others offer privacy and the view.  We think that the preponderance of the lots are gonna offer people a real private kind of environment so they=re tucked back into the mountains and feel like they=re part of a mountain community so we=ve kinda created an environment here that=s marketable to a fairly select group of people that will look at this as a second home or vacation homes and then as they age they=re gonna transition here.  We=ve talked with many of them and that=s their plan now.  So they may come in and build a cabin/guest house and then look at building a primary residence or expand that guest house if they do that - if they build it with the architect and can expand it.  We have a historic cemetery right there on the right.  There=s a Civil War soldier buried there.  A gentleman named Abraham T. Stepp - he was one of the - his family is one of the original settlers in here and operated the old mill at Oleta Falls.  Have all of you seen the falls?  You know it=s a 40 foot waterfall on Little Hungry River.  And if you=d like to see that we can do that today or come back.@

Someone said something but I don=t know what. I think it was Commissioner Ward.


Mr. Ball - APardon me?@ 


Commissioner Ward - A ? ? ? A


A.J. Ball - Laughing AYeh.@


Commissioner Hawkins - AIs this Overlook Drive we=re on?@


A.J. Ball - ANo this is Oleta Mills Spring.@


Commissioner Hawkins - AOh@


A.J. Ball - AYou just came down Oleta Mill Trail and we=re gonna continue on Oleta Mill Trail until we make a left turn at the intersection.  The location right here is where we=re gonna put the covered bridge that we=ve talked about and uh construction has to be complete by I think 2003 Karen? Is that correct?  Again all these parks and meadows stay the way they are - the open space.  Across the stream we have a trout pond.  There are trout in there. I fed them again this morning. If the locals haven=t caught em all and dragged em away so we=re still in pretty good shape. . .  We are gonna maintain this ford uh for two reasons - one for the folks internally (property owners) to have access in and out to this parking area.  We=re gonna have a community lodge building over here where this huge big mound of dirt is - the excavation material we took from the pond.  And also for emergencies if we need to use it - if something occurred and we need to get vehicles in and out and this was one of the areas that uh the fire department looked at, brought some trucks down to see if they could get across.  There weren=t any problems there. We do have some erosion in the bottom of that stream - very little.  And that=s pretty remarkable to me because when the construction company came in I could see that deteriorating very rapidly but it did not so it=s held up very well. This park area was designed and created by Charles Osmond, one of the developers and constructed by James Sebastian, the gentleman you met at our last meeting.  The lodge, pool, and all that will be out behind that dirt pile there.  We=ve got to move that.  We=ve dubbed that dirt pile Mount Charles right now, it belongs to him. So we=ll get rid of it.  And we=re coming back on Oleta Mill Trail uh main access road into phase II and phase III.  We don=t have any lots in these steep ravines uh all the lots are up on top of the ridges.  Some of em are steep in slope.  It will be a more difficult

build for some folks but they want those kinds of lots for view and privacy so there=s a little bit of trade-off . . .  what=s your looking for. 


Someone asked a question here?


A.J. Ball - That=s lot 25. We=re approaching lot 29 coming up the hill . . . uh you=ll see uh over on the left of that document 25, 26, 27, 28.  We=ve already done away with lot 25 over here and moved it and we=re discussing now whether we want to maintain 26, 27, and 28.  We may do away with those lots cause they=re extremely steep and open the meadow area in the top left hand corner of your map. It=s not on your map Marilyn.  It=s here on Grady=s. Uh and subdivide that into three lots so that we maintain@


Commissioner Gordon AOh he has the big map.@


A.J. Ball - AYeh.  We maintain the 79 lots that we=ve marketed for so we don=t want to increase that.  We told people only 79 lots so we=re gonna maintain that.  We=re going by 29 now. When you come up to that intersection T there, take a left, that will be Overlook Drive Grady. 


Commissioner Hawkins - A Site 48 is pretty steep too isn=t it?@


A.J. Ball - AThey=re not really.  You get back up in there and there=s some terrain that rolls.  For instance up on this ridge right here there=s a great building site.  They are steep.  I mean it=s mountain property but we tried to find places where the home sites would fit and that was part of the issue over here on the road we=re gonna look at on Bear Landing Drive.  Just try to create homesites where people didn=t have a real difficulty.  We do have a a large amount of deer and turkey out here.  I=m surprised we haven=t seen one.  I guess the guys forgot to turn it loose here a minute ago.  It was scheduled for that intersection back there.  Alright we just turned onto Bear Landing Drive and lot 34 is on your right, 30 and 31 will be on the left as we go down through here.  We are approaching the infamous slope at this point.  Rocky if you want to stop.  I don=t know from what perspective you want to look at - you want to walk down, get out here and walk down so you can look back up?


I couldn=t make out the answer here or who said it.


A.J. Ball - AWell if you walk down, we=ll come down and pick you up.  Okay. Alright.@


There was some mention of AStrive Not To Drive Week@ and walking.


Angela Beeker - AWell actually if you come back up you get the perspective and then get out and look at it.@


Commissioner Gordon - AYeh I think realistically most people will be riding when they go down and that=s what we should be looking at.@


Commissioner Hawkins - ARocky, which way would you be approaching this with emergency vehicles, would you be going down?@


Rocky Hyder - AYeh, we=d be coming in so@


Commissioner Hawkins - AComing down this way@


Rocky Hyder - AThe angle of the driveway coming is just - is really the only issue that you know from this perspective.@


A.J. Ball - AThat=s the section that we took the curve out of that we just came through.  The road is now straight instead of that bend in it.  This is uh what 33 on the right and the end of lot 31 here on the left.  Then we=re coming into a cul-de-sac and off the front of that cul-de-sac is lot 32.  Lot 32 is one of the larger lots in this development.  Uh it has a beautiful view of the valley and park area.  So from the top of the hill there where we made the the turn coming down this road actually serves two lots, it could serve three depending on where you put the driveway for lot 31.  The owner of lot - both lots 30 and 31 are sold and the owner of lot 31 is gonna put the driveway where we had ? it in  uh and has already selected the house site and has that into a surveyors hand now.  My dogs, Buster and ?.  We got that on tape too didn=t we?@


? Rocky Hyder or Grady?  - AGot the dog=s names.@


A.J. Ball - A . . . introduce them.@


Commissioner Hawkins - AJust wait till we call them to be a witness.@




A.J. Ball - AThey would tell you this is a wonderful place if they could.  They love it here.@


Craig Justus - A . . . if you can look to the right there=s the rock outcropping as we go up.  It starts basically where that is@


A.J. Ball - ASo Right here where this curve is up to@


Several people were talking at the same time - can=t make out.


Craig Justes - ASo basically right here. And@


A.J. Ball - A# 22"


Commissioner Hawkins - AIt must be right about where we are right now.@


A.J. Ball - AUm huh, it is.@


Someone said AYeh@


A.J. Ball - AThen it starts to level off.@


Craig Justes - AAnd then it stops about right around here.@


A.J. Ball - AYeh.  We do have an adjacent property owner here today, a gentleman named Bill Stepp, who is the project manager for Calvin Koontz who is the owner of 2,000 acres adjacent to this property.  Uh I don=t know what comments he wants to make.  He is supportive of the project. He wanted to come.@


Ms. Beeker explained that he could not be allowed as a witness.  He has not been sworn in.


Much discussion followed including but not limited to discussion about the $31,000 improvement guarantee to bring the road in compliance with an 18% grade.  


Mr. Baston was questioned about the blasting and he stated that they blasted to a five foot depth.  

Mr. Hawkins questioned about how the 22% grade was measured. 


Karen Smith distributed a chronology of this project. The Board spent time reviewing the chronology.


Melissa Paegler showed a model of the road grade and the difference between the 19% and the 22% grade.


Karen Smith showed the area in question on a map, including lots 30 and 31.


Commissioner Hawkins made the motion to grant the variance as requested.  He further stated that there was no deliberate action taken to sidestep the ordinance.  There was discussion about a hardship on the land.  A vote was taken and the motion passed unanimously (Chairman Moyer being absent ).


Ms. Beeker explained that staff would bring a written order for the Board=s review/approval to the next meeting. 


Commissioner Hawkins made the motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:55 a.m.  All voted in favor and the motion carried.





Elizabeth W. Corn, Clerk to the Board                        William L. Moyer, Chairman