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Boone Board Denies Variance Request for Shopping Center Development on Farmland

Developers are looking to turn this property into a shopping center. Photos by Jesse Wood

By Jesse Wood

The Boone Board of Adjustment denied a variance request from a developer seeking to turn a 17-acre property known as the Greer/Henson Farm into a shopping center.

The board met on Thursday evening and the decision to deny the variance request was unanimous, according to Brenda Henson with the Boone Planning and Inspections.

Columbia Development, based out of South Carolina sought to build upon a greater percentage of the property, which is located at the corner of Deerfield Road and Blowing Rock Road and is 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 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, developers planned to 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 borders the New River and 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.