Mountain Xpress: Developer puts hold on Coggins Farm development plans in Riceville

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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old_coggins_farm_2014Mountain Xpress has the latest on a controversial development proposal for the Riceville community:

The rezoning request for Coggins Farm, a mixed-use development planned for a 169-acre tract in Riceville known as Old Coggins Farm, has been withdrawn by the developer, Coggins Farm LLC. It was scheduled to go before the Buncombe County Commissioners on Feb.18.

In an email to the Xpress, David Case, Coggins Farm partner and lead developer, said his company has requested that the zoning change application be tabled without prejudice to a later date.

The Asheville Citizen-Times, in a story today, lays out the proposal:

Old Coggins Farm in rural Riceville will feature hundreds of homes, open space, a small farm, office space, a restaurant and maybe even a school.

“We are devoting our lives to this thing,” Case said.

To make it happen, commissioners must approve a zoning change for the land, which was once a working farm. The rezoning, and the development, mark the first big project for the county since the recession.

Commissioners have already heard from neighbors who have spent their lives in Riceville, which is just 8 miles from downtown Asheville but has the feel of isolated countryside. They are worried about traffic, environmental impacts and what might happen if the zoning is allowed but the development stalls.

Click over to read both stories in full.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1


  1. Kale April 6, 2014

    It’s possible to find some middle ground here. We can reduce the size of the potential development and its impact to our neighborhood by protecting a portion of the land in a conservation easement. The Coggins Conservation Project aims to make this happen for our community.

  2. Murphy February 18, 2014

    The area is already zoned to allow such a residential development – the developers can build there with no permission…just not as large (a little over half the size of the proposed plans) and not “mixed use” as they had originally planned.

  3. Del February 18, 2014

    You know what scares me? Anyone who’s scared of driving on a paved road

  4. AVL LVR February 18, 2014

    Actually, Old Farm School Rd. is not that bad. Roads can be straightened. Parts of 221 in Virginia are a lot more curvy and hilly than Old Farm School Rd, yet I was amazed how straight they made them.

    Have you ever thought the NCDOT could build another bridge across the Swannanoa River to ease traffic? The area is going to grow accept it. How it is going to grow is the question. Coggins Farm LLC has a tremendous vision. I’m glad they chose Asheville area. It is lot better than having more mobile homes blight the land.

    1. ashevillain February 18, 2014

      Yes, Old Farm School is that bad…and Lower Grassy Branch is worse.

      The only way to straighten these roads would require relocating the Swannanoa River or relocating residences. Really nice vision there, huh?

      This is not the place for such a development.

      I’m not sure what you mean about building “another bridge across the Swannanoa River to ease traffic.” There no current bridges in this area. The closest bridges across the Swannanoa are on Warren Wilson Rd. and on 70. Neither really comes into play with this development.

      And I understand mobile homes are not everyone’s idea of paradise…but “blight the land”? Really? This development is not affordable housing. Certainly not to most people who live in mobile homes.

      1. AVL LVR February 18, 2014

        To be honest, I’d rather it remained a farm. At the end of the day though, it is their land to develop as they please. If we are going to start controlling property development, let’s start with mobile homes or shacks which need to be condemned. If straightening the roads mean a few of these come down, then it is a good thing.

      2. luther blissett February 18, 2014

        Old Farm School Road is indeed that bad. It was resurfaced a couple of years ago and is already cracking badly in places. There’s really no room to expand or reroute it without some significant eminent domain issues.

        The idea of high-volume construction traffic on that road is risible, let alone an extra few hundred commuters and school buses and retail delivery trucks and paratransit for seniors.

        The developers’ plans weren’t for a “European hamlet”, in spite of what they said, unless you’re referring to the Shakespeare play that ends with a lot of dead bodies. Hamlets grow up around points of convenience, like road and river crossings, with multiple access routes. The circulated plan here was for an exurban subdivision — a large cul de sac composed of smaller cul de sacs — with a thin eco-friendly veneer, a single point of entry, and high traffic through tricky roads. That’s even before considering water and electrical grid needs, and flood and erosion risks.

        The potential externalities of such a development for the county are more than enough to cover any increased property tax revenue.

        Perhaps the Coggins Farm developers have better plans than whoever put up those clumps of newer crappy vinyl-sided homes around the Riceville area, but their understanding of the surroundings is totally lacking. It’s a project that might work in a different location with better access, but the temptation of a lot of contiguous land going up for sale at once made them overreach.

        Finally, the responses to the C-T piece suggesting that the alternative would be R-2 zoning 2000 units? That would feel a lot like blackmail if it weren’t ridiculous.

  5. burnsey February 18, 2014

    I have to agree with Dave. Lower Grassy scares me, and being on a bike, I tend to cut through the Folk Art Center to minimize my time on this road. Equally scary in a car.

  6. Dave February 17, 2014

    Anyone unfamiliar with the proposed site should go to the intersection of Old Farm School Rd. and Lower Grassy Branch. From that point follow Grassy Branch south to Tunnel Rd. It is absolutely mind boggling that our elected officials would even consider adding more traffic to this narrow, curvy, congested and dangerous road. All for the love and pursuit of the almighty tax dollar.


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