Montreat to review zoning ordinance revisions, town petitioning new lodge

Ty Roush
Black Mountain News
A concept rendering of the proposed Assembly Drive lodge.

A decision to build a new lodge between Georgia Terrace and Assembly Drive is not a “NIMBY” or “not in my backyard” issue, Kate Hayner says.

Hayner, whose family owns the “By-The-Way” home adjacent to Galax House, sent a petition to Montreat residents March 25. By March 30, over 450 residents have responded.

This petition complements a postcard that was mailed out two weeks earlier, which offered suggestions to those opposed to the development on how to be more involved and urged those unaware to visit “Montreat Stewards,” a website outlining all concerns for the property.

Of the homes and residents that have responded so far, Hayner has plotted each on a map to represent that while neighboring property owners are most concerned about the development, all of Montreat is represented, too.

A plotted map created by Hayner represents the data that Hayner and others have received and compiled as of March 31, which includes 86 different properties throughout Montreat. It serves to show how spread out the opposition is, Hayner said.

A mapping of the 86 Montreat properties that have voiced opposition to the proposed lodge.

In addition to the plotted graph, a bar graph was added to show how each signature is represented in the town, like a signature attributed to Montreat College or a conference attendee.

The bar graph expands on each of the 474 signatures, ranging from families who own a cottage to a local area resident outside of Montreat. It serves to show that, while cottage owners do make up a majority of the opposing viewpoints, others are represented as well, Hayner added.

A bar graph outlining all 474 signatures.

Hayner said her “desire is to stop the project” altogether, echoing comments made to the town’s governing body during a March 11 meeting.

Montreat Conference Center president Richard DuBose said that he and Montreat Retreat Association, MCC’s corporate and original moniker, will not entertain suggestions to end the development.

Zoning ordinance revisions

Montreat’s Planning and Zoning Commission will meet April 8 to discuss various zoning ordinance revisions. Of the changes is the definition for conditional use permits being changed to “special use permit.”

The change is outlined on the “Montreat Stewards” website and can be found through the town website. Hayner added that she and those opposed to the lodge are concerned about the revisions.

A definition for conditional use permits says that it will be issued “only when the specific conditions and review procedures” are adequately met “to maintain and protect the health, safety and general welfare of persons residing in the area, and to ensure the compatibility of the use with adjacent properties and within the entire community of Montreat.”

A new definition and renaming to “special use permit” outlines the permit as “a permit issued by the Board of Adjustment that authorizes the recipient to make use of property in accordance with the requirements of this Ordinance and any additional requirements imposed by the Board of Adjustment.”

These new permits will be subjected to updated permit standards and an application process.

An overhead view of the nearby Montreat Conference Center properties and its site for the new lodge.

Previously, a “Review by the Planning Commission” section mentions a public review process in which “any party may appear in person, by agent, or by attorney.”

Current standards would deny a permit should the development endanger public health, safety and general welfare, or diminish “the use and enjoyment of other property in the immediate vicinity.”

A revision to permit standards removes mention for protections for the “use and enjoyment” clause. All other standards are maintained.

The new standards say that “the burden of presenting competent, material and substantial evidence ‘contra’ to the application rests with those parties opposed to the application.”

An overhead view of the new lodge.

Additionally, revisions include that “the burden of persuasion on the issue of whether the application should be turned down for any of the reasons set forth … rests on the party or parties urging that the requested permit should be denied.”

If an applicant does not complete the application and is not told “in what way the application is incomplete,” that “application shall be presumed to be complete.”

Montreat’s Board of Commissioners will not be considering zoning ordinance revisions during its April 8 meeting following the Planning and Zoning Commission’s meeting earlier that day.