MRA required to meet all criteria outlined by town to be granted special use permit

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
The Montreat Retreat Association's concept for its proposed lodge.

The Montreat Board of Adjustment had another five-hour session Oct. 28 in the hearing about whether or not to grant the Mountain Retreat Association a special use permit for its proposed new lodge. 

The hearing started with a five-hour session Oct. 21 and has been continued to Nov. 4. See this story for details about the lodge proposal and the Oct. 28 session.

The town defines a special use permit as a permit issued by the Board of Adjustment authorizing the recipient to utilize property under the ordinances of the town and any other restrictions imposed by the board. 

Under the town ordinance, six criteria must be met for the board to grant the permit. If the board decides to deny just one of the six, the permit cannot be given. 

The six criteria include:

  • The use of the permit will not endanger public safety.
  • The use will meet all development standards of the town, things such as parking, stormwater drainage and utilities.
  • The use will not diminish the property value of neighbors within 250 feet of the site.
  • The use will not harm the enjoyment of other properties in the area.
  • The use must conform to the town's adopted policies and plans.
  • The use will provide adequate ingress and egress so as to avoid congestion on the streets. 

Three legal parties are represented in the hearing, the MRA and the Hayner and Jones families, whose properties sit adjacent to the site of the proposed lodge. The burden of meeting these criteria remains on the MRA, the applicants for the permit. 

If the organization meets the requirements, the burden to show that the use does not meet the criteria shall fall on the opponents of the new lodge. If the board grants the permit, and the MRA fails to comply with the conditions, the board may revoke the permit through the same process as approving it.

The Board of Adjustment also has an attorney at the hearing. This attorney's role is to advise the board in legal matters rather than present evidence.