Weaverville – Asheville’s Mountain Housing Opportunities, developer of subsidized housing in Buncombe County, has filed a proposal for the construction of 46 single-family homes on North Main Street. The project is titled “New Homes on North Main” and six families are already on a waiting list for the subsidized portion of the development.Read more...
Mountain Housing Opportunities is an Asheville-based non-profit focused on providing affordable housing and rentals in Buncombe County since 1988.
“We have an application for a conditional zoning district for the property at 25 Lily Farm Lane, also known as Critter Trail, at the intersection of North Main Street,” said James Eller, Weaverville’s planning and code enforcement officer.
Of the 46 homes, approximately 32 homes will be income-based and subsidized, while the remaining 14 will be sold at market value, according to Joe Quinlan self-help program manager for Mountain Housing Opportunities.
The 7.71-acre property would include, if approved, six residences per acre, according to Eller. The proposal has been approved by the Weaverville planning and zoning committee and is now headed to town council for approval at the Aug. 15 meeting.
According to Quinlan, the Weaverville property is attractive to the non-profit organization because it qualifies as part of a USDA housing grant creating affordable housing in rural areas. “Eighteen of the houses will be part of our self-help home ownership program, similar to Habitat for Humanity, where a small group of families will build their own homes and work as a team with our organization supervising,” said Quinlan. “No one in the group can move into a home, until the whole group is finished,” Quinlan added.
While the property is located at the intersection of North Main and Critter Trail, Quinlan said there will be 45 feet of frontage. “We have very little frontage on North Main,” said Quinlan. “Our property opens up to the north, a short distance up Critter Trail,” he added.
Quinlan said the public response to the project, thus far, has been positive for the project. Mountain Housing held a community meeting at the Weaverville Library Thursday and invited all the neighbors to the project via letters. Everyone that came responded positively to the project,” he added.
Mountain Housing, according to Quinlan, has developed property in the Weaverville area before, with the Compass Park project on Reems Creek Road. Of the 15 homes constructed, with 12 part of the self-help housing program.
Last weeks headlines
Grievance filed against NBHS
in handling of alcohol incident
By Heather Berry
NBHS – Five North Buncombe High School athletes were involved in a March 11 incident involving the underage purchase and underage possession of alcohol at the Shell Station on Monticello Road. Three of the boys received citations from the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) and punishment from the school. The remaining two, both high-profile NBHS athletes, went unpunished by the school and did not receive ALE citations. Read more...
Two of the punished athletes and their parents are speaking out, after filing a grievance with Buncombe County Schools, and say all five boys were involved and should have been disciplined equally in the incident. They say it’s a case of special treatment. In addition, the parents are upset with how the high school handled the situation.
According to NBHS officials, after an investigation, there wasn’t enough evidence to support disciplinary action or wrong-doing for all of the boys. “We disciplined the athletes where we felt we had enough evidence to justify the policy, and we didn’t feel there was enough for the other two to apply the policy,” said Jack Evans, principal at North Buncombe High School.
“When athletes want to play a sport, they sign an alcohol and drug policy agreement stating they will not use, possess or sell any kind of drug or alcohol,” said Evans. Violation of this agreement, said Evans, can put their athletic eligibility at risk. In terms of the March 11 incident, Evans continued, two of the athletes were not in violation of the school’s alcohol and drug policy.
For one of the athletes in question, a high-profile NBHS track, football and basketball athlete, the incident would have been a second alcohol-related offense and could have meant serious repercussions to his high school athletic career, according to the drug and alcohol policy for Buncombe County Schools. A second alcohol and drug offense requires an athlete to sit out all athletic events for 185 days, meaning this athlete’s senior year. The policy doesn’t require athletes to have any legal consequences for disciplinary action, only proof they participated in the underage possession or the underage purchase of alcohol or drugs. See the policy in the sidebar.
According to Michael Ponder, a recent graduate and one of those cited in the March 11 incident, the group of five athletes were in agreement and clear about a plan to purchase alcohol after a NBHS baseball game. One athlete volunteered to make the purchase while sitting at the Weaverville McDonald’s. Ponder drove one vehicle. Another vehicle, containing three NBHS athletes, headed to the Shell Station in the second. A passenger in the second vehicle went into the Shell Station to make the purchase. Two of the school incident reports, written by the students involved, corroborate the plan was a consensus.
ALE officers witnessed the sale and witnessed the transfer of alcohol from the purchaser to Ponder’s vehicle. ALE officers, however, did not see alcohol transferred from the purchaser to anyone in the second vehicle.
According to Web Corthell, a North Carolina ALE officer present at the March 11 incident, “Two cars pulled up at about 10:30 p.m. There was a conversation between the two cars and there were five people present between the two cars and one guy, a passenger, gets out, goes in, and buys the alcohol,” Corthell explained. “The purchaser, then, went across the street and split the alcohol up,” he added.
Shortly after the alcohol exchange, and, before the purchaser got back into his vehicle, ALE officers intervened.
According to Corthell, the two boys who accepted the purchased alcohol admitted to ALE officers their intent to possess and drink the alcohol and were both cited. The two boys in the vehicle with the purchaser admitted to no wrong-doing and claimed they had nothing to do with the plan to purchase alcohol. These boys were not cited by ALE and were not given disciplinary action by the school.
“We couldn’t prove they had anything to do with it,” Corthell said. “The purchaser was charged, but it’s possible his two passengers in the car weren’t involved in the incident at all,” said Corthell.
Proving the intent of wrong-doing, said Corthell, is something the ALE faces frequently and can be difficult. “It’s not unusual where we can prove a case on one or two in a car, but not the entire car,” he said. “In a car of four or five kids, where someone goes in to make a purchase of alcohol and we know everyone in the car gave money for the purchase,” he explained. “We can cite the purchaser, but it’s not so easy to prove the other participants unless they come forward and say, ‘Yeah, we all put our money in to do this.’
“We know what’s going on, but we can’t prove it,” said Corthell. “The purchaser will often say, ‘It’s all me.’”
For the parents of the two boys speaking out, they admit to frustration with the fact their boys were honest about their participation and took the consequences. Tim Ponder, Michael’s father, said he feels the incident sets a bad example to NBHS students in terms of integrity.
“When Michael came in that night, I told him, ‘You screwed up, and you have to abide by the law, so you will need to tell the people you love what happened,’” Ponder explained. “I told him, ‘You’re not going to call them, you will go and tell them. If you are man enough to do this, you are man enough to do that,’ he added.
Michael, at his parents’ request, went to visit his grandparents and called his baseball coach, Matt Landreth, the next morning to confide what had happened Friday night.
Monday morning, according to Michael, school officials asked him to come into school early. He and another student were told to hand over their cell phones and asked to write down the details of the Friday incident. They were soon given the terms of their punishment, which included 15 hours of community service in the form of sweeping and other manual labor on school grounds. Within days, the boys were working off their community service hours. In addition, the boys were prevented from playing a set number of baseball games and required to attend an alcohol and drug assessment.
Had the boys kept quiet, said Tim, chances are that his son wouldn’t have been punished by the school.
Later, according to Michael, one of the two boys who weren’t punished confided to him that, after a conversation with NBHS Athletic Director Barry Owens, it was clear he wouldn’t be punished, saying the incident was “swept under the rug.” Michael, upset upon hearing the information, texted his mother, who called the school out of concern that her son may lose his temper.
Michael’s mother, Lara Ponder, said she and Owens spoke on the phone and he suggested two of the athletes weren’t being punished because of the consequences or “trouble” they would suffer.
“I’m not upset my boy was punished,” said Tim. “I just think they should have kept it equal. Every kid should be treated the same,” he added.
Playing putt putt patience
By Heather Berry
Woodfin – The under-construction putt putt golf center on Weaverville Road has had some major changes before even opening the doors. Russ Roberson, owner of the property, decided in recent months to break away from the franchise Putt Putt Fun Center, based out of Winston-Salem. According to Roberson, he and the corporation disagreed philosophically on how to run the business. In the end, said Roberson, he felt it best to operate as a locally-owned family business. The new name for the local fun center is Play Staytion.Read more...
“We’ve had some issues that have come up with the franchise and the contractor,” said Roberson. “We broke off with the franchise and that’s meant some cosmetic changes to the property that will take some time,” he explained.
Roberson said he is frustrated by the delays in opening, but can’t give an opening date yet. “I apologize to the community,” Roberson said. “I know everyone has looked forward to our opening and I promise I will make it up somehow, whether it’s a free golf day or something of that nature,” he added.
Watching holidays like July 4th and spring break pass by without opening has been difficult, said Roberson. “We’ve missed the first part of the summer, but we will make it up to everyone,” he said.
After purchasing the land on Weaverville Road two years ago, the decision to open something for kids and families, said Roberson, was grounded in his own childhood in the area. While he knew the property he owned was valuable, Roberson said, he wanted to use the investment to create something fun for families. “This intersection is going to explode,” he said. “There’s nothing left. It might not be this week or next, but after Mars Hill, there’s no place to go (develop),” continued Roberson, who has owned and developed property in the area for decades.
“I’ve lived here all my life and I love this community,” Roberson explained. “I wanted to do something with this property to make money, but also something that would help the community,” he added. “When I was kid, all we had was the swimming pool behind the community center in Lake Louise.”
At first trying to lease the property, Roberson said he kept recalling his childhood days and how much he enjoyed putt putt golf. “There really isn’t much like putt putt or go-karts around here,” he said, “so, I said, ‘Let’s do that.”
Despite the challenges, Roberson is still convinced the project will be a good thing for the community. He hopes the public will remain patient as he continues to iron out the details. “I want to get open as much as anyone, because I’m not making any money and the bills are still coming in,” he said. “I still think this will be a good thing, I just hope people don’t hold it against me.”
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