Henderson County adopts 2045 Comp Plan; Chair McCall: 'We have a lot of work ahead'

HENDERSONVILLE - It's finally official. At 1:23 p.m. March 20, 2024, three years after starting work on the 2045 Comprehensive Plan, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the plan during its regular meeting at the Henderson County Courthouse, despite complaints from over 20 speakers during public comment.

Construction workers work on an apartment complex in February along Crab Creek Road in Henderson County.
Construction workers work on an apartment complex in February along Crab Creek Road in Henderson County.

"We have adopted the Comprehensive Plan 2045," Board Chair Rebecca McCall said following the vote. "I'm expecting the thunder and the lightning."

A copy of the plan is available at https://www.hendersoncounty2045.com/copy-of-past-plan-drafts.

The cover page of the 2045 Henderson County Comprehensive Plan.
The cover page of the 2045 Henderson County Comprehensive Plan.

Commissioners met for 2 1/2 hours and heard from the public before taking an hour lunch break at noon. During that break, commissioners made more changes to the land use map and presented those changes when they returned. The room had mostly cleared out upon their return.

"We have a lot of work ahead," McCall said. "We thought we had a lot of work behind us, but we have a lot of work ahead. Now comes the detail work."

On what used to be farmland in Edneyville near Kenny Barnwell Orchards is now a housing development. There are several more houses now built on the property, Barnwell said.
On what used to be farmland in Edneyville near Kenny Barnwell Orchards is now a housing development. There are several more houses now built on the property, Barnwell said.

According to the Henderson County Government website, the 2045 Comprehensive Plan, which replaces the 2020 Comprehensive Plan, is "a roadmap for how the county can grow over the next 20 years, while maintaining rural character" and will be used when making future development decisions.

But public speakers at the meeting argued the plan achieved just the opposite, stripping the county of its rural landscape. Joe Elliott of Flat Rock said the result was exactly what commissioners envisioned at the beginning of the three-year process, and that is a plan "without substance."

"It's a word salad that has no semblance of future direction or guiding authority — a document that fills your legal obligation without any underlining intent to actually chart the course of action for Henderson County for the next 20 years," he said. "From the inception of the process, your management has been heavy-handed with little regard for the observations and recommendations of the folks you were elected to serve."

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More than 7,000 county residents filled out a survey about the plan. Elliott said the answers given on the surveys were ignored by commissioners.

"You shoved aside the opinions of over 7,000 Henderson County citizens who took the time to respond to your survey in the belief that you would actually consider their concerns and suggestions," he said.

Nora Stepp of Hendersonville said the county has a "massive ever-increasing consistent population growth" and that it would continue with the current version of the plan.

"The secret is out ... everyone wants a slice of this apple we call Hendersonville," she said. "We are only enhancing the raging speed of unaffordable home building."

Chuck McGrady, a former Henderson County commissioner, also took the podium. He spoke at other commissioner meetings about his disapproval of the plan.

"The draft plan has a well-stated goal to protect and conserve rural character and agriculture. However, the recommendations following the goal are broadly stated but really don’t commit you to doing much of anything," McGrady said. At the end of his speech he added, "At this point, my advice is to adopt a plan and start working on implementing the goals."

Commissioner Bill Lapsley reminded those in attendance at the meeting that the Comprehensive Plan was just that, a plan.

"This is just the first step in the process. Adopting this plan will move this forward to the most important step, which is updating the land development code," he said. "We can't get to that step until we get this plan adopted ... the sooner the better."

Following adoption of the plan, the board voted to have a public hearing on the land development code at its April 17 meeting. According to the plan, it will be reviewed every five years to update any areas of significant change or different priorities, and a full rewrite should occur when new census data is available in 10 years.

Dean Hensley is the news editor for the Hendersonville Times-News. Email him with tips, questions and comments at DHensley@gannett.com. Please help support this kind of local journalism with a subscription to the Hendersonville Times-News.

This article originally appeared on Hendersonville Times-News: Henderson County 2045 Comp Plan adopted, despite public outcry