Chinquapin development likely to get green light

An older development in Cashiers operating under a new name is likely to get Jackson County go-ahead for putting in, over time, 200 house lots on 2,000 acres. A public hearing is set for March 5.

The Chinquapin development near Panthertown Valley had been part of the Trillium development, but reverted to the original owners, the Carlton family, said County Planner Gerald Green. There are some houses already in the Chinquapin development.

“This could prove a model for other developers to follow,” Green said last week.

The Chinquapin development will take place slowly, over years and even decades. It is one of the first large scale mountain housing developments to seek approval under a host of progressive regulations enacted in Jackson County fours years ago. The recession-driven housing market crash came at the same time the regulations went into effect, making them largely untested as to how easily a developer could comply or navigate them.

Chinaquapin opted to enter a “development agreement” with the county, an option afforded larger developments that allows flexibility under the ordinances yet still upholds environmental protections intended in the ordinance.

For example, 700 acres will be set aside as a conservation area and 150 acres for greenspace and open space.

Development agreements are geared toward large-scale developments containing multiple phases over a period of years, such as Chinquapin, Green told Jackson County commissioners recently. He cited developments such as Biltmore Park in Asheville, and now Chinquapin, as fitting these exceptions. Given the slowness of the development to come to fruition, the development agreement assures the developer that standards won’t change over the life of the development.

Commissioner Joe Cowan had questioned whether the development agreement circumvented or weakened local land-planning regulations. Based on Green’s response, Cowan declared himself well satisfied that the one with Chinquapin did not.

“You answered all of my questions,” he told Green when the subject came up a recent commissioners meeting.

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