Planning Board discusses scenic by-ways, townhomes

Wil Petty Staff Writer

December 8, 2013

The Ashe County Planning Board unanimously approved the final plans of proposed planned unit development that have been in discussion since 2004.

Whispering Streams town homes, which will be located off Pine Swamp Road, are expected to be high-end town homes.

“This is a planned unit development, so it is different than a subdivision,” said Jason Herman, a planner of the townhomes.

Herman said the development was required to have at least 15 percent of its land be used as a common area. With two ponds and Pine Swamp Creek within the property, 23 percent of the land will be used for that purpose.

Chairman Gene Hafer asked if the lands were usable.

“It’s not swamp land,” Herman said. “It’s a green area, which will be kept cleaned and mowed.”

The townhouses will have a homeowner’s association or property owner’s association.

“Nothing has been finalized as of yet,” Herman said. “This (proposal) has to be approved before we can get building permits.”

Two of the homes will need elevation approval by the state, because of where the flood plain is situated.

Ashe County Director of Planning Adam Stumb said the plats meet the ordinance requirements of Ashe County and the state.

Scenic byway designations

The Planning Board also discussed the designation of more scenic highways within Ashe County.

Right now, there is one byway, the New River Scenic Byway, which follows N.C. 194 from Boone to U.S. 221 in Baldwin. That route then starts again outside of Jefferson from N.C. 88 to Alleghany County.

Stumb said a plan was submitted to the state to create the “New River Valley Extension Byway,” which would be U.S. 221 from the Ashe and Watauga county border to N.C. 163 in West Jefferson.

“That was applied for maybe a year and a half ago,” he said. “I went through the application and did additional work on it, but that’s in the state’s hands right now.”

The second road would follow N.C. 194 through Lansing and follow a route heading toward the Virginia border.

“This was the town’s initiative, and the High Country Council of Government actually did the application,” Stumb said. “They have actually turned it in and it is in the same review process with the state.”

Planning Board member Rick Surber asked what a by-way designation means for the county roads.

Stumb said the roads would come with promotion from the state and put a limit on outdoor advertising on designated roads.

“This is not one of their big programs, but the route is marked and promotion is done on their website,” he said.

Surber then asked if the county could use the roads as a way to promote tourism in the county.

“The program relies on the scenic part of the road, but there is also the tourism aspect,” Stumb said. “It’s not about just driving (the by-way), but things that are along the route.

Hafer said he believed now was a good time to look into having some roads get the designations, because of the economy there was not a demand for billboards. The signs already in place along the routes are grandfathered in.

“It protects the scenic views along these routes,” he said.