The Settings residents ready to get on with it

Fred McCormick

Mag and Elaine Andersen came to Western North Carolina for the first time in 2008, intending to relax on vacation far away from Houston, Texas, their crowded hometown. And, as it turned out, the charm and convenience of the Swannanoa Valley was too much for them to resist.

Vegetation and orange construction barrels mark an unfinished road near Mag and Elaine Andersen’s lot.

The Andersens decided to purchase a lot in The Settings of Black Mountain, a development just south of town.

"As soon as we saw Western North Carolina, we fell in love with the area," Mag said. "We looked all over the area, and The Settings stood out as having everything that we were looking for."

Much like the others buying property in the budding community, the Andersens had no idea that a number of factors surrounding the development of the 364-acre property would lead to what Mag refers to as a "rollercoaster of emotions."

Construction in the development began to stall shortly after the Andersens purchased their home site. The developers of the community, The Settings of Black Mountain, LLC, and Richmarc of Black Mountain, LLC, dissolved in mid-2011. As work on the project came to halt, the community scheduled to be built in three phases was left with the infrastructure only partially completed.

Prior to beginning work, the developers were required by Buncombe County to obtain surety bonds totaling $1.5 million. The town of Black Mountain annexed the land after construction began. In early 2012, the town attempted unsuccessfully to collect on the bonds. Later that year, the town and Settings property owners filed suit the bond companies, Lexon Insurance Co. and Bond Safeguard Insurance Co.

A lengthy legal battle culminated in a ruling by a Buncombe County Superior County judge to award the bond money to the town and property owners. The decision was upheld by the N.C. Court of Appeals at the end of 2014.

Property owners have renewed hope that infrastructure will be completed at the 364-acre development on the south side of town.

The Andersens had wondered if their post-retirement dreams would ever come to fruition.

"We were afraid that we wouldn't be able to build there," Elaine said. "We didn't expect to build for five years after we bought the lot, and then it looked like we weren't going to be able to build at all."

A little over a month ago, even as their lot sat undeveloped and overgrown, the Andersens decided to move to Black Mountain anyway. Instead of putting finishing touches on their home in The Settings, they're instead renting a place. But they're inspired by the promise of renewed activity in the development.

"We're very optimistic that the remainder of what needs to be done to finish the infrastructure there will get done," Mag said. "We're resigned to probably have to rent for a couple of years. Having to rent is not our first choice, but we're going to wait patiently, and hopefully we'll get that opportunity that we've been waiting for for years."

The couple has experienced many post-retirement activities that drew them here. And Mag, wasting no time getting to work in his new community, was recently elected to The Settings homeowners association recently.