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Concerns Arise Over Beech Mountain/The Lodges at Eagles Nest Development Connector Road Request

A map of The Lodges at Eagles Nest development in proximity to the Town of Beech Mountain. The red star marks connector road location.
A map of The Lodges at Eagles Nest development in proximity to the Town of Beech Mountain. The red star marks connector road location.

Update: The Lodges at Eagles Nest has withdrawn this request, according to Beech Mountain Planning Director James Scott on Wednesday.

By Jesse Wood

June 8, 2014. The Beech Mountain Town Council heard a recent request from representatives of The Lodges at Eagles Nest for a connector road between the 1,350-acre development and the town.

Elliott Harwell, vice president of Eagles Nest Banner Elk LLC, the current owners of the development, addressed the council in May and said that a connector road to Buckeye Lake Road would “enhance the experience for potential owners” of a 700-acre portion of the development that is located on the backside of Beech Mountain known as the West Bowl, according to meeting minutes that were recently published on the town’s website.

“Harwell explained that this portion of the development almost joins Buckeye Creek Road down by Buckeye Recreation Center. The closeness of the property to the road made them think of establishing a connector road. Right now there are approximately 180 lots in this portion of the development,” the minutes read.

Harwell noted that these potential households having access to the Town of Beech Mountain would be a “win-win” for both the residents and owners of the development and the town because of an influx of people to shop, dine and participate in outdoor activities such as bike riding and skiing in the resort town. Harwell noted that the proposed road wouldn’t be used for construction. It would also be gated, whereby residents of The Lodges at Eagles Nest could access Beech Mountain but residents of Beech Mountain couldn’t access The Lodges at Eagles Nest.

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While adding that the connector road wouldn’t have “any real use” until 2015, Harwell said that about 110 lots have been sold, and when asked, mentioned that about 12 percent of those would be developed in the “near future.” Currently, five homes are under construction, “six are in the works” and 15 to 20 homes existed when the property was purchased, according to the meeting minutes.

Vice Mayor Paul Piquet noted that town staff asked for 30 to 60 days to process this information and gather more information on the request.

Piquet also stated, according the minutes, the only way he would entertain this connector is if the gate was removed.

Councilwoman Cindy Keller noted that the original plan for the town when it was incorporated was to have the main entrance come up Buckeye Creek Road and asked Harwell if the developers would be willing to pave all of Buckeye Creek Road.

“Harwell stated that they understood that this situation would be a give-and-take one and understands that the amenities that Beech Mountain has to offer are not free. Mr. Harwell stated that they are open to discussions,” the minutes read.

In a May 6 letter to Beech Mountain’s Planning Director James Scott about this request, Harwell said that five percent of the development lies within Town of Beech Mountain limits and a future 10-plus homes would lie wholly or partially with the town.

“The roadway will serve as a back entrance from the development into the Town of Beech Mountain, and we believe this will cause very little, if any, strain on town services,” Harwell wrote.

The main entrance for the development is off of N.C. 194 in Banner Elk.

At the May meeting, Mayor Rick Owen asked Fire Chief Bob Pudney and Police Chief Jerry Turbyfill about the potential cost of fire and police protection if this connector road were to be built.

Pudney stated that the town isn’t the first responder to those regions that would open up with the connector road and stated that that could change if the county and state government make that approval. Currently, either Fall Creek or Banner Elk Fire Departments cover those areas. Pudney also stated that no additional funding would be thrown at the Beech Mountain Volunteer Fire Department if this connector road is built.

Turbyfill mentioned that the Beech Mountain Police Department is required by law to service one air mile outside of town’s jurisdiction and that while the Beech Mountain Police Department is the primary responder, other departments handle the processing activity.

It was also noted that the development doesn’t have any fire hydrants or recycling stations in place.

Fred Pfohl, owner of Fred’s General Mercantile, said he was in favor of the connector road.

“As far as somebody who is a business owner up here, I think it’s an excellent idea,” Pfohl said, adding that increase in property tax would be a plus as well. “People at Eagles Nest don’t have golf courses. They don’t have tennis courses. They would have to join Beech Mountain Club and utilize the Buckeye Recreation Center. It opens up the rest of Eagles Nest to come and enjoy our town.”

Noting the potential increase in activity for the local police and fire departments, Pfohl said that the police department already extends its protection one mile outside of the town and that the increase in fire activity for that area wouldn’t increase dramatically.

“I think the pros outweigh the cons,” Pfhol said. “We are not flourishing on Beech Mountain and haven’t done much to bring new businesses or whatever. So we need to take care of what we’ve got and make sure everyone survives and can prosper. It’s going to take people shopping in town and taking advantage of what we have to offer, which is a heck of a lot.”