By Jesse Wood
Developers are looking to turn a 17-acre property in Boone into a shopping center.
Columbia Development is requesting a variance from the Boone Board of Adjustment to build upon a greater percentage of a 17-acre property known as the Greer/Henson Farm, located at the corner of Deerfield Road and Blowing Rock Road.
The property is located in the town’s Watershed Protection Overlay District. According to the application, town code allows a maximum build-upon area as 24 percent and a minimum buffer of 30 feet from the top of the bank on the South Fork of the New River.
Columbia Development, based out of South Carolina, is requesting a maximum build out of 65 percent with a 100-foot vegetative buffer from the top of stream bank.
The application states that while the N.C. Department of Natural Resources deems this portion of the river to be a “protected area,” the Town of Boone classifies this area as a “critical area.”
“The town’s regulations are notably more restrictive than those required by NCDENR,” according to the application submitted by Chris Capellini, P.E., of Bohler Engineering.
The proposed development, which is slated for property currently owned by Kimberly Henson and family, includes 61,500 square feet of retail in the main building and two other separate shops that are 13,300 square feet and 8,7000 square feet in size. The proposal features about 375 parking spaces.
In addition, the developers have set aside two outparcels sized 1.4 acres and 1.21 acres.
Developers have set eyes on the property for years, and rumors have swirled through the years as to what would eventually end up on the property.
In 2010, the Watauga County Farmers Market was seeking a location and eyed the farm. It took a proposal to the Town of Boone in 2010 and called the property the “last farm of its kind within the town limits [one that] sits at a prime business location.”
The property features a big barn, a 19th century farmhouse and a brick home. The rolling hills on the property used to be a driving range many years ago.
According to Watauga County tax maps, the property is valued at just under $2 million.
The property is located within the town’s proposed Wellness District Small Area Plan.
On Monday, Aug. 3, the Boone Town Council will hold a public hearing on its proposed Wellness District Small Area Plan, which covers the southeastern portion of Boone, bounded by the Watauga Medical Center (to the east), U.S. 321 (to the south), Winklers Creek and South Fork of the New River (to the west and north). It totals 100-plus acres and is comprised of hospitals, medical offices, offices and apartment complexes.
Greenways are integral part of Boone’s comprehensive plans, including the wellness district’s plan.
The applicant notes that the greenway, which is proposed to run along the South Fork of the New River on the property, will be designed in conjunction with the Town of Boone and the Middle Fork Greenway Association and that the Town of Boone will be granted an easement for the greenway. The Henson property is a critical stretch of property that could connect Boone and Blowing Rock via the Middle Fork Greenway and the Boone Greenway.
The Boone Board of Adjustment meets on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, located on Blowing Rock Road.