The ULI Report and Meeting is now available!
Link to Slide Deck:
Link to Presentation:
Jan 11, 2022 - New Happenings in Cashiers - The Kessler Collection
Dear Cashiers Friends and Neighbors!
Develop Cashiers Responsibly came about initially as a grassroots movement to engage and bring awareness to the community of the events around the “Hillside” development proposal brought by Stephen Macauley over a year ago. That property consisted of 2 portions (i.e. the Zoukis and Barrs parcels). That project was withdrawn by Macauley.
More recently, a new development has been presented - a positive one we believe - and we want to share and make you aware. The Zoukis parcel, about 25 acres, is now under contract with The Kessler Collection. The Kessler plans include approximately 7 acres of the property being preserved in perpetuity as a public access park with trails, construction of a lodge hotel, and a reimagining of the existing developed area on the low-sloping portion of the property near 107 to create a walkable shopping/dining experience. The park land would be added to the Village Green’s properties and connect to the Village Ramble and would protect the forested hillside of the property visible from the Crossroads area. The lodge would be located on the east side of that forested ridge. From the plans that have been presented so far, we are pleased to say that the Kessler plan appears to be consistent with our group’s name and purpose to Develop Cashiers Responsibly.
The Kessler Collection received the Global Award for Excellence from ULI for their Plant Riverside District in Savannah, and they are also the developers/managers of the Grand Bohemian in Biltmore Village, Asheville.
The Kessler team has been very open with the DCR leadership team in developing their initial plans for this property. They are working with our community to be a collaborative partner as they thoughtfully develop and maintain this special area in the heart of town. The Kessler Collection has developed their proposed plan to honor the existing contours of Cashiers, holding true to the nature of our small historical village, and meet the guidelines of the Cashiers Small Area Plan. They’ve asked DCR to help them identify people and groups that should be involved to share the plan.
We share all this to let you know that the Kessler team will begin to hold presentations over the next couple of months, and you may be seeing invitations either via Social Media (Facebook, Instagram), the newspaper, or email.
The DCR leadership team has met with the Kessler team and the outcomes have been very positive. DCR is committed to remaining involved as the process continues and helping to keep the community involved. The Kessler Collection has a strong track record through their previous work and partnership in historic communities.
To explore more of what they have developed click here The Kessler Collection
Also, for your information, the Barrs portion of the property was purchased by Fritz Rybert, who participated in the development of Mountaintop Golf & Lake Club and Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort. http://www.peachtree-group.com/. To our knowledge, this group has not yet submitted a proposal for development to Jackson County for this parcel.
Jan 8, 2022 - Letter to Cashiers Area Planning Council RE: UDO Changes Proposed for Public Comment in Jan 10th Meeting
Happy New Year!
Thank you for serving on the Cashiers Area Planning Council on behalf of our community. The work you are doing on the UDO will serve Cashiers well to guide thoughtful, well-planned development in our area. We commend you for your efforts to date as well as for the diligence and deliberate examination of the issues presented thus far, and we understand that this is by no means a simple undertaking.
In anticipation of the meeting on Monday, the Develop Cashiers Responsibly group reviewed the proposed UDO changes and would like to share our thoughts and suggestions. We support the 4,000 square foot threshold for special use permits in the Village Center and the 6,000 square foot in the General Commercial District.
We appreciate your consideration of these suggestions.
DEVELOP CASHIERS RESPONSIBLY RECOMMENDATIONS AS TO PLANNING DEPARTMENT DRAFT CASHIERS ZONING ORDINANCE CHANGES
(for consideration at January 10, 2022 Cashiers Planning Council Public Hearing)
Spell out types of applications to which application requirements in 9.3.2(b) apply
Spell out contour interval to be used for topography shown on site plan.
Require slopes to be shown on site plan with different shading for slopes between 15-20%, 20-25%, 25-30%, 30-35%, and greater than 35%.
Require site plan to show adjacent properties.
Define property owner to include affiliates and relatives owning contiguous parcels.
Do not amend existing ordinance to exempt single family residential from special use permit consideration if size of proposed building exceeds square footage threshold.
Do not amend existing ordinance to change combined square footage from 2+ buildings/units to 3+ buildings/units for purposes of special use permit consideration threshold.
Change 45’ height limit to 35’ or 3-story limit. See Highlands/Old Edwards Inn and Highlands zoning code for similar height limit.
Consider lower peak hour and daily vehicle trip generation thresholds than 100 peak hour and 3000 daily average for triggering need for Transportation Impact Analysis study, considering known existing Cashiers congestion problems. Consider changing weekday assessment to include consideration of weekends, too, in light of Cashiers heaviest congestion being on weekends.
Consider reducing maximum impervious surface limit from 70% to something lower, with impervious/graded area/density decreasing as slope increases. See Black Mountain and Asheville ordinances for sliding scale approaches relative to slope.
Hand Edited Draft of New Ordinance
List of Suggested Modifications
Black Mountain Ordinance
Sept 19, 2021 Letter to the Friends, Neighbors and Residents of Cashiers Community
Dear Friends, Neighbors and Residents of Cashiers,
As many of you already know, our involvement as a community in Develop Cashiers Responsibly (DCR) resulted in the withdrawal of an attempt to develop 1.25 million square feet of multiple use buildings at the Cashiers Crossroads. However, there are other large parcels of land in the Cashiers area under contract and many large tracts ripe for commercial development.
Despite attempts in the past (the Small Area Plan) to get better language in the Cashiers Commercial District Ordinance to adequately protect Cashiers' unique heritage, ecology and environment, the current wording in the Ordinance has been deemed as "too subjective". As a result, potentially inappropriate projects can come through the Jackson County Planning Department and then to our Cashiers Area Community Planning Council (CACPC).
In order to remedy this and after due diligence, DCR has decided to support the efforts to bring a team of experts to Cashiers to address the issues unique to our community, establish short and long term planning goals and help our Planning Council propose appropriate language for meaningful changes in the Cashiers District Ordinance. The Urban Land Institute (ULI) is an internationally known and respected, non-profit organization that, despite its name, has helped small communities like ours that have seasonal economies. I will be emailing a pdf for those interested in more detail. The fee for the 1) pre-visit evaluation of information unique to Cashiers, 2) the week long visit that includes 50-70 interviews of community members and 3) a written formal report is $135,000.
DCR has donated $10,000 toward this effort and many of us involved in DCR have given independently as well. The Jackson County Tourism Development Authority is providing $35,000 toward this goal and to date $93,500 total has been pledged. It is hoped that the rest can be raised as soon as possible so the date can be set for the week-long visit of the appropriate experts in early November.
Donations can be made to the Cashiers Area Legacy Fund which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization of the Cashiers Chamber whose purposes are exclusively educational and charitable to finance and endow public works programs for the Cashiers area. Checks will not be deposited unless and until the $135,000 goal is reached. Mail checks to the Cashiers Area Legacy Fund PO Box 238 Cashiers NC 28717 and be sure to include a note that this is for the ULI Project.
So many have been generous in our support of DCR efforts to keep Cashiers Cashiers and this is an important part of that goal.
August 22, 2021 Cashiers Planning Board Meeting Aug 23rd @ 5pm
Interesting proposals to UDO and presentation from Urban Land Institute and Michael Cox!
1) Urban Land Institure Presentation: Tom Eitler
2) Proposed Amendement Evaluation
3) Proposed Amendment: Michael Cox
4) The Ridge Community identification sign
June 28 2021 Cashiers Planning Board Meeting
Develop Cashiers Responsibly (DCR) is calling for the Cashiers Planning Council to vote No on June 28th to changes to the Uniform Development Ordinance (UDO) by the Jackson County Planning Department that would do anything more than necessary to bring the UDO into compliance with state law requirements under what is known as 160D of the North Carolina general statutes. Instead of limiting proposed UDO changes to that purpose, the Planning Department is also suggesting other changes that would violate the express will of the Cashiers community and its Cashiers Planning Council.
On March 24, 2021, the Cashiers Planning Council (CPC) unanimously voted against eliminating a 5000 square foot building size limit as stated on two different figures of the UDO, and instead to keep that limit in place until such time as substitute standards on maximum building size could be adopted that would comprehensively address the text of the ordinance and its graphics. The CPC vote was the result of comments by dozens of Cashiers community members at CPC meetings. The community has spoken loud and clear in favor of keeping the 5000 square foot limit in place until new numeric size limits can be developed that are consistent with the Cashiers Small Area Plan and the existing requirement of the UDO that new buildings in Cashiers “shall be small in scale” and consistent with the historic village character and natural environment of Cashiers.
The good news is that at the request of the community and the CPC, Planning Director Mike Poston committed to begin the process of hiring a professional consultant to lead a community-involved process to update the ordinance to bring it in line with the Small Area Plan. Per Mr. Poston, that will be a 6-9 month process, which is certainly not too long to wait for good planning.
A number of commenters at a recent CPC meeting have also suggested that a temporary moratorium on large scale developments be put in place until this critical process is completed. Develop Cashiers Responsibly has provided a head start on the process by hiring Stewart, Inc., which led development of the Small Area Plan, to offer suggested ordinance improvements that would bring it into conformity with that plan. Stewart’s suggested changes that were well received at the CPC March 22 meeting.
Given the support for pausing changes while the planning process continues, we were surprised that the Planning Department is now proposing a new section 1.5(d) to the UDO which would state that “graphics and images” in the UDO are for “illustrative purposes” only and not binding. If this step was taken at this point, the effect would be to eliminate the 5000 square foot building size limit as stated in Figures 9.1 and 9.2 of the Cashiers ordinance before the process for zoning ordinance changes requested by the CPC and the Cashiers community is complete.
“Obviously, if this 1.5(d) amendment were allowed, it could potentially open the door for premature and inappropriate applications for large scale development in our village, “ said Dick Ott, a Cashiers area resident and property owner who has previously made comments to the CPC and is an active DCR member.
“The Cashiers Planning Council made a commitment to the community by tabling an earlier amendment by the Planning Department that would have eliminated the 5000 square foot limit until substitute limits could be developed. To change that now would be a violation of our trust”, said Gana Sita resident Jamie Moran.
“Updating the Cashiers zoning ordinance with community involvement to bring it in line with the Small Area Plan will provide a much needed blueprint for Cashiers community to manage its growth for decades to come, and if it takes take 6-9 months to do it right, and wait on any larger new developments in the Cashiers zoning district in the meantime, it’s well worth it,” says Cashiers resident Bill Horton.
In summary, we urge:
1) The Cashiers Planning Council to vote NO on June 28th to changes to the Uniform Development Ordinance proposed by the Jackson County Planning Department that would do anything more than is necessary to bring the UDO into compliance with state law requirements under the what is known as Section 160D of the North Carolina general statutes. Specifically, vote NO to the new section 1.5(d) of the UDO.
2) The Planning Department to expedite the process of hiring a professional consultant to lead a community-involved process to update the zoning ordinance to bring it in line with the 2019 Cashiers Small Area Plan.
3) The CPC and County to make no hasty UDO changes that affect Cashiers until that process is complete in the next 6-9 months.
4) The CPC and the County to strongly consider a temporary moratorium on large scale development until that process is complete.
Develop Cashiers Responsibly is a broad-based group of Cashiers area stakeholders who support a carefully developed growth plan for Cashiers consistent with the village-scale heritage and beautiful environment that makes Cashiers so special.
I wanted to share a few developments in regard to the Cashiers Hillside Development that was presented to the Cashiers Planning Council last November. Many of you contributed your time and your money to help us fight the high density development on our mountainside. Macauley withdrew his plan in February, commenting that he would be resubmitting in the Spring. In the last Cashiers Planning Council meeting several people spoke up in support of the development and Macauley (the majority of whom are in real estate or land developers in the area, as well as the owners of the Cashiers Hillside land), in fact Macauley himself was on the Zoom call but did not speak.
One speaker even made mention that the Cashiers Planning Council should not be swayed by a small vocal minority who were opposed to the plan Macauley presented.
All of this to say - Macauley is NOT going away.
The next meeting is Monday May 24th at 5pm, you can attend via Zoom.
They will be announcing the change of three members of the Cashiers Planning Council.
This is a GREAT OPPORTUNITY for us to speak up and remind the council we are not a small vocal minority.
The core team of Develop Cashiers Responsibly has been attending the meetings and speaking and now we need help making a bigger impact on the Council by adding more voices
Please sign up to speak - below are a few general talking points.
You can sign up with Allison Kelly by 2pm Monday - email her firstname.lastname@example.org
Asking to participate in the Public Comment portion of the meeting
Please share with your friends!
Talking Points - These are suggested.
Thank the new members and continuing members:
I wanted to thank the new members for joining the council and volunteering their time to support the community, as well as thank the continuing members for their work thus far on these many important issues before us as a community.
Small Vocal Minority
I am speaking In direct response to the comment that this is a small vocal minority - thousands of people signed a petition and more than 400 people contributed over $100,000. We are concerned about preserving the character of Cashiers.
The Small Area Plans First Goal is to BE TRUE TO PLACE. BY HONORING THE HISTORY, HERITAGE, AND AUTHENTICITY OF CASHIERS' VILLAGE CHARACTER and Ensure scale and pace of growth are compatible with the character of Cashiers. Our community was speaking out in regard to the density, size and design of the plan submitted by Macauley - we are a community that came together quickly and cohesively to defend our quality of life and our mountain home.
Concern regarding when Public Comment is scheduled on the Agenda
I am concerned that public comment is scheduled before any presentations are made which does not allow for meaningful discussion on said presentations. We can only comment on what happened at previous meetings or what we think may take place based on the published agenda. I would ask that you consider this when planning future meetings and agendas.
At the last Cashiers Planning Council meeting Stephen Macauley the developer of Cashiers Hillside, a number of people spoke in favor of the development. Macauley has not submitted a new plan yet, but his presence at the meeting is telling.
The community that has spoken in support of developing Cashiers responsibly and against the irresponsible plan Macauley first submitted were called a loud small minority by one of the speakers.
The Cashiers Community does not want to strike the 5,000 square foot limit without providing an alternative to be used to guide the Cashiers Planning Board when approving buildings that trigger special permit approval. Otherwise the responsibility is left to the discretion of whomever is on the board. At this time the Jackson County Commissioners do not have funds to research and create a plan. Therefore Develop Cashiers Responsibly has engaged Stewart Inc. to develop suggested square foot limits based on building use, etc. This is the same company that worked with the community to develop the Cashiers Small Area Plan. Develop Cashiers Responsibly and the community want to take part in a collaborative effort with the Cashiers Planning Council and Jackson County to get this right! The intent is to present this report at the March 22 Cashiers Planning Council Meeting as a discussion opener regarding the striking of the 5,000 sq ft limit, and rather than strike it, lets amend the ordinance to protect Cashiers.
You can help us support this effort in THREE ways...
ONE Donate to help us fund this initiative Click HERE
TWO Speak in support of this at the March 22nd Cashiers Planning Council Meeting and Email/Call the Cashiers Planning Council Members to let them know you want thoughtful deliberation on the planning code changes. Click here for DETAILS
THREE Share this!
SOS ... Text Amendment Public Hearing
Contact the Administrative Assistant for the JC Planning Board to request participation in the public comment part of the meeting:
Her Contact is as follows:
JC Planning Department:
Phone: (828) 631-2261
The announcement for the meeting will appear twice in the Crossroads Chronicle in editions published on March 10 and March 17. The notice will be in the Classifieds section under Legal Notices. We expect the notice will read :
Call for Public Hearing for text amendment to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) Article IX Section 9.3 Cashiers commercial area Figure 9.1 & 9.2
Process: We recommend Every comment should begin with something like: I oppose any decision to remove the 5000 sq ft building limit, we want thoughtful square footage limits and a process to get them that is inclusive of the community.
1. What Does the Withdrawal of the CUP Application Mean – Congratulations to the community and thank you, thank you, thank you for all the support you’ve provided. The developer’s withdrawal of the application shows what we can achieve as a community when we work together to protect the town we love. Cashiers is a very special place and we applaud County Staff for demanding that the developer withdraw his application after the bait-and-switch alternative plan showed not only an increase in the commercial space on the property, but also the inclusion of a wastewater treatment plant and other facilities and infrastructure that had never been disclosed. The addition of a wastewater treatment plant in downtown Cashiers would have harmed numerous businesses and also reduced the value of the adjoin Glenville Fire & Rescue property. This amendment was not a better solution and was rightfully withdrawn. What this means is that, for now, there’s no pending application for the Cashiers Area Planning Council to approve.
2. What’s Next? – While we should celebrate this win, the fight is not over. In his withdrawal letter, the developer’s attorney made it clear that his client would be resubmitting a new plan on late March or April. This means that we only have a short time to prepare for round two of this fight. We anticipate that the plan will not substantially change and poses the same problems we’ve already identified as a community. We need to work together to make sure the next McCauleyville is not constructed in Cashiers.
3. What Can You Do Today – Below are a list of things you can do to protect Cashiers today:
a. Donate to the Chattooga Conservancy Legal Defense Fund: The legal defense fund was critical in building the financial resources necessary to pay for expert witness review and legal representation. With the new project a month or two away from submission, we need to work together to raise additional funds so that it can be reviewed by independent experts who can identify the negative impact this project will have on Cashiers’ traffic, water, wastewater treatment, as well as water quality in Cashiers Lake and the Chattooga River. We cannot protect Cashers if we don’t have the funds to do so. Your tax deductible donation will help us be prepared. Please click here to donate now.
b. Contact Members of the Cashiers Planning Council and County Commissioners: While the application has been withdrawn, County Staff are proposing “technical” amendments to the zoning code that would make it easier for this developer to get approval of his next application. We should not be changing the rules during the middle of the game. Instead, we should have a community lead process that looks comprehensively at whether changes are need to the Cashiers Area Code Click here to contact the Cashiers Council Members and Jackson County Commissioners and let them know that you oppose removing the building size cap in Cashiers.
Attend February and March Cashiers Planning Council Meetings via Zoom to Oppose Zoning Amendments: As mentioned above, the Cashiers Planning Council is being asked to recommend to the Jackson County Commissioners changes to the zoning code that would help the developer get approval of his next application. Please attend the meeting to voice your opposition to removing the current building size limits and ask that they instead start a community process that will comprehensively look at whether changes to the code are necessary. We should not be changing the rules in the middle of the game to benefit an out-of-town developer. Click here to get more information about the meetings.
Thanks to the efforts of Develop Cashiers Responsibly and the support of the Cashiers community we were able to hold the developer accountable to the rules.
After having submitted a revised but no-less-problematic plan to the County, the developer temporarily withdrew its special use permit application on February 9. But in its withdrawal letter, it said that it planned to submit a new application in the “very near future.” So, it would appear that this developer with his strong inclination for super-sized development is not gone or going away.
Also, although the Cashiers Planning Council is no longer going to hold a public hearing on February 22 on the idea of eliminating the Cashiers zoning ordinance’s building size limit, it appears that it and the County Planning Staff are still considering that idea.
What can we all do now?
First, you and the members of the Cashiers Planning Council are now free to communicate directly with one another about the developer’s prior development plans since they have been withdrawn. Please feel free to email them and call them or talk to them when you see them about your thoughts on why the developer’s proposal was so dangerous for Cashiers.
Second, you can and should email or call the County Commissioners, the County Planning Board members, and the Cashiers Planning Council members to let them know that any amendments to the Cashiers zoning ordinance need to be carefully considered and should not eliminate building size limits. If the 5000 square foot building size limit were to be amended, it should be done in a way that recognizes the differences between civic buildings, retail buildings, hotels, parking decks, apartments, condominiums, townhomes, and single family detached houses. If amended the Cashiers zoning ordinance should also do more to recognize the difference between the true village center and its low-slope areas and steeper slope areas that are on the perimeter of the true village center.
Cashiers Village II, LLC has proposed a high-density development on 55 acres of land at Cashiers Crossroads in a special use permit application to the Cashiers Community Planning Council. The current proposal includes 914 residential units and 1,473 parking spaces (by comparison Ingles has 275 spaces) in 3-4 story structures. This proposed plan is inconsistent with the character and traditional scale of Cashiers as set forth in the Jackson County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) for both the Cashiers Village Center District, and the Cashiers General Commercial District.
As Cashiers residents we are concerned with the density this development proposes and its adverse impacts on deforestation, water, sewer, traffic volumes with their accompanying health & safety risks as well as significant erosion and potential sedimentation into the headwaters of the Chattooga River.
We, as residents of Cashiers want to ensure that the development meets ALL applicable requirements of the Jackson County UDO for a Special Use Permit including submission of all required documentation, and that the proposed development is of a scale and density consistent with the existing scale and density of the Cashiers Village Center district. The proposed development must also demonstrate compliance with all legal requirements and that it will not result in adverse impacts to traffic, safety, or the environment. Finally, the proposed development must not compromise the unique existing character of the Cashiers Village Commercial district.
The Chattooga Conservancy, the Gana Sita Property Owners Association and homeowners abutting the development have come together and retained the legal services of John Noor of Roberts & Stevens, P.A. in Asheville to represent the neighboring property owners and ensure the developer meets the standards outlined in the Jackson County UDO for a Special Use Permit. We were granted a continuance at the Nov 16th hearing to Jan 6th at 9am to give our attorney time to retain the expert witnesses and prepare a defense for responsible development.
Click HERE to see the plans for the development
How can you help?
Email Cashiers Planning Council
Make a TAX DEDUCTIBLE contribution to the Cashiers Village Development Legal Defense Fund set up through the Chattooga Conservancy
Spread the word - share this website and post to social media