County and university officials had a sit-down last week over the question of whether Western Carolina University should fall under Jackson County’s revised subdivision ordinance.
Ghost Town owner Alaska Presley was willing to sacrifice a piece of the theme park property to generate some cash for her Resurrection Mountain project, but a new opportunity has come along that will hopefully allow her to redevelop the entire park.
Western Carolina University’s slated to get a brand new building on Centennial Drive in place of the one destroyed by fire in November 2013, which was home to businesses such as Rolling Stone Burrito, Subway and Mad Batter Bakery and Café.
Monarch Ventures, a Charlotte-based student housing company, has been trying to locate a posh 500-bed student housing complex in Cullowhee for nearly four years. But, despite the fact that they’ve got a deed and land-use permit in hand, the county’s heard nothing but radio silence from the company since June.
The rolling hills of the Cullowhee River Club unfold beneath a heaven of blue sky as the Tuckasegee River rifles by. The property long belonged to the Battle family, it was known as the Battle farm.
That’s before Ken Newell stumbled into God’s backyard.
Following a pair of community input sessions in October, proposed planning regulations for the Cullowhee area have been tweaked a bit.
“Relatively minor revisions to text and to maps,” explained Jackson County Planning Director Gerald Green.
The commercial revitalization of South Main Street in Waynesville has taken another step forward this month with the bulldozing of a dilapidated, vacant building to make way for a new Bojangle’s.
The run-down corridor has been gradually transforming into a new commercial hotbed since the addition of a Super Wal-Mart on South Main in 2008. The new Bojangle’s to anchor the intersection of South Main and Allens Creek will add another notch to South Main’s belt.
Cullowhee rising. Sounds like a fitting name for some aspiring college band, but it best describes what’s happening at Western Carolina University and the community surrounding it. It’s one of the fastest growing places in the region whose potential is matched by the energy of those who live and work there. And this is why it is important that those advocating for zoning measures in Cullowhee prevail in the face of the passionate but misguided voices trying to squelch the forward motion.
Western Carolina University has 7,500 traditional college students who live and study in and around Cullowhee. Total enrollment is around 10,300, but some of those are nontraditional students — professionals seeking a second degree who live elsewhere or students at its satellite locations. By 2023 — that sounds like the distant future, but is now less than 10 years away — that 7,500 figure is expected to grow to 11,000. That’s a whopping 46 percent increase in students, and that doesn’t account for the faculty and staff required to accommodate this growth.
They weren’t thrilled about it, but members of the Cullowhee community did show an appetite for possible development standards during a recent second public input session focusing on the proposed regulations.
“This is not a pretty plan, there are parts of it I find very disturbing,” said Jim Lewis, during the Oct. 23 meeting. “But if not this, what? Just let us go?”
Up to now, the mood at many of the Cullowhee planning meetings and public forums was upbeat and positive — full of rah-rah and optimism.
Occasionally a naysayer would need to be hushed — Cullowhee property owner Mike Clark has been a consistent and vocal critic — but in general the consensus seemed to be that Cullowhee needs development standards.