“Nothing has progressed except that I passed out a letter,” said Plaut. “I think our point is, this is dumping a number of houses around the lake. If you drive by the lake on an evening or a warm summer night on the weekend, the park is really crowded. Has anybody given any thought to what happens when you have another 40 cars going in and out of a new development? Weaverville, to my knowledge, has not contracted for a traffic engineer to do a count.”
After the town council meeting of July 18, Plaut said he handed out flyers stating these concerns to the council members before they went into private session. The flyer asked which town staff are responsible for maintaining the quality of Lake Louise—also inquiring if the town plans to take initiative in conducting studies on the effects this development will have on the area.
“Our association currently is discussing contracts with land use, safety and traffic engineers. Some LLPA members have pledged to take out bank loans to pay for these experts until fundraising can catch up to the expense of their hire. But, this raises a troubling question,” the flyer states, “Shouldn’t the town be doing this? Shouldn’t our taxes pay for the vetting and hiring of experts–and their bills?”
In asking the town who would conduct these studies if they were to be pursued, Town Planner James Eller explained the town does not have the capacity to conduct these studies on its own, as an outside engineer would need to be hired by the town. He said, “If we were to have that done, we would have to hire that out to someone that is not on the staff of the town of Weaverville.”
Not stating whether or not the town plans to conduct these studies around the lake, Eller did explain the current approval status of this development.
“Now, apparently, the developer, Mayfair, has done that,” speculated Plaut when talking about the need for a traffic study. “We have talked about a traffic engineer and he is going to share data with us. Just because counts are counts, and we hope that he will do that Friday through Monday to get both the weekend and a couple of weekdays in there, but we don’t know what the deal is there. Apparently, the engineer we were going to hire has already been hired by the developer and they say that is going to cover it.”
The LLPA continues to meet and discuss how they want to progress in procuring a comprehensive traffic study, Plaut said. If the town does not hire an engineer for this purpose and Mayfair Partners does not get back to the association with a conducted study, Plaut said the members of the association will move forward with hiring an engineer on their own. But, he wonders, “Why should Weaverville’s taxpayers have to borrow money to hire experts to evaluate a development’s potential impacts on the town’s primary public park?” as stated in the flyer.
Greg Phillips, the developer from Mayfair Partners, LLC, was contacted by the Tribune about this matter, but did not respond by press time.
As far as the status of the development application, Eller said, since its initial submission in May the whole process has had to be reset. Following the lack of public posting on the actual land parcel, the previous approval of Mayfair Partners’ application had to be reneged, he explained.
“What had happened with the original application that goes back to the month of May was that we issued notice in the mail, we issued notice in the paper; however, no sign went up on the property, which should have occurred,” said Eller. “That’s the reason we’re having to reset the entire process. We basically have to start from the beginning. We have to have a new public hearing and the information has to be submitted once again to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.”
Deadline for applications to the town was last Friday, July 22, Eller explained, and since then the town has received a new application from Mayfair Partners to be, yet again, considered for approval. “We do have in hand an application for a unified housing development for the 97 Lakeshore parcel. So, we are on pace for Monday, August the 8th at 7 p.m. That is when the public hearing related to this matter will be held,” said Eller.
To Eller’s understanding, the new application includes the initial requests of the town, as it has made room for 10 additional parking spaces. This was the original request made by the Board of Adjustment, Eller said, and was the only withstanding aspect pending the last, reneged, approval.
“My initial review of the project is that they’re coming to the board this time with what the Zoning Board of Adjustment asked them to do last time. So, yes, those additional parking places will be included with the plan that was submitted. That was the only thing requested by the Zoning Board of Adjustment back in May and that has been incorporated into the plan,” explained Eller.
Moving forward with their fight against the development, the LLPA still holds public meetings every Wednesday night, Plaut explained. Their ongoing meetings will revolve around how members will proceed in procuring an engineer for traffic studies around the lake, he said. Still attempting to reach out to town staff, Tom Plaut continues to inquire about the town’s efforts in preserving and maintaining the lake as part of the development’s approval process, he said.
“This is a big deal for the town. Lake Louise is a very important asset and the town is saying, ‘Well, we don’t have any responsibilities for this,’” said Plaut. “One of our big agendas is how do we raise thousands of dollars to do this? We are really going to have to work. Some people are talking about crowd funding. We now have a website, but as I said in the letter, we might have to take out a loan or something. I don’t know why I should have to take a loan against my house to pay a traffic expert, but that’s the kind of thing we are talking about.”