A land-use plan to guide growth in Cullowhee will take a detour past the planning board en route to Jackson County commissioners this spring.
There was some uncertainty over what trajectory the land-use plan would take once the Cullowhee planning task force finished it. A unanimous consensus at last week’s commissioner’s meeting was that the planning board should take a crack at it next.
It’s been one-and-a-half years since the Jackson County Commissioners first OK’d a committee to look into doing some zoning in Cullowhee, and while Cullowhee is still without development standards, a proposal is on its way to commissioners’ desks.
Approval could come as early as Jan. 29, though it could also drag out a good deal longer.
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.
A final public hearing to solicit public input on a draft set of standards to guide development in Cullowhee will take place on Jan. 13
After that, the draft standards will go to the planning board and then to the Jackson County Commissioners.
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.
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.
It’s official. Starting with the 2016-17 academic year, sophomores attending Western Carolina University will be required to live on campus.
“We have a philosophy of students learning better by growing into their responsibilities. First-year students need that residence hall experience,” said Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Sam Miller. “It’s often their first time living away from home.”
The Village of Forest Hills is about to go on a vision quest. The quest begins Nov. 3 with a community workshop.
The village will be the latest community to ponder a vision, a long-range view. It follows in the footsteps of nearby Jackson County neighbors, most notably Cullowhee.
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.