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Shining Rock seeks annexation

The future site of Shining Rock Classical Academy at 1023 Dellwood Road isn’t in the town limits of Waynesville, but that hasn’t stopped the Lake Junaluska Assembly from asking town aldermen to annex the parcel so it can receive municipal services.

Per Town of Waynesville Code of Ordinances section 58-277, “a written petition for voluntary annexation… shall accompany all written requests for connections to or extensions of sewer lines outside the corporate limits of the town.”

On Aug. 8, Executive Director of Lake Junaluska Assembly John J. Ewing Jr. submitted that petition to aldermen, who called for the required public hearing to be held on Sept. 13, but questions about the motives of the charter school linger. 

Shining Rock calls itself “Haywood County’s first tuition-free public charter school” and serves students in kindergarten through seventh grade, but hopes to expand to K-12 in the future.  

Students currently attend classes in the Wilson Children’s Complex on Lake Junaluska’s main campus as they await the completion of their 2.8-acre campus across the street — also owned by the assembly. 

The problem is, construction is well underway on the campus, which didn’t have to meet town design standards, because it isn’t in the town. SRCA has looked at two other locations within town limits — one off Ratcliff Cove and one in Francis Farm — but it didn’t pan out for multiple reasons. 

SRCA needed a special permit to build the school on the Francis Farm property, but the site plan was denied by the Waynesville Planning Board last August. SRCA’s first site at the intersection of Ratcliffe Cove Road and Old Asheville Highway was abandoned because of increasing costs, including a legal challenge to its special use permit application to the town.

Furthermore, the school is a tax-exempt entity, meaning that Waynesville may gain a new utility customer, but won’t gain any property tax revenue from the parcel. 

The town’s annexation ordinance goes on to say that aldermen can reject or accept the request for municipal services “without regard to whether or not it accepts the property in question for annexation.”

If the town board elects to annex the Shining Rock property, the fees involved in providing water and sewer will be much lower than if they don’t.

According to Town Engineer Preston Gregg, the school’s water tap fee would be $4,006, and its water capacity fee would be $3,200; the sewer tap fee would be $1,250, and the sewer capacity fee $12,000, for a grand total of $20,456.

But if the board elects not to annex the Lake Junaluska property, water tap fee would be $5,756, and its water capacity fee would be $6,400; the sewer tap fee would be $1,875, and the sewer capacity fee $24,000, for a grand total of $38,031.

Aldermen have 180 days to commence the annexation process if they so desire.

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