Since the proposed 57-acre Cashiers Hillside development at the southeast corner of the Crossroads was unveiled on Nov. 16, citizens have rallied to either keep the development from happening or to at least keep it from happening until a myriad of questions are answered.
Pushback for the development began with a demonstration of people against it, and now a petition opposing the project circulating.
As of Sunday, Dec. 20, 7,770 people have signed the petition available HERE.
The goal is 10,000 signers to be presented to the Cashiers Planning Council on Jan. 6, 2021 when they reconvene to discuss the development after they voted unanimously to grant a continuance for stakeholders to gather more information. Read details of the project and vote for continuance HERE.
The petition was started by Jaret Bessette.
“This petition seeks community support from the greater Cashiers community to express our disapproval of a new planned development that would destroy our quaint town including the south duck pond, hill, and trees. This petition seeks community support from the greater Cashiers community to express our disapproval of a new planned development that would destroy our quaint town. The project includes 1,473 total parking spaces utilizing a 500-space parking deck; 726 residential units — 414 units (Phase 1), 312 units (Phase 2); 188 hotel rooms. Please help us protect our community,” he wrote.
Some citizens who have signed the petition have also commented.
“I moved to Jackson county from northern Pennsylvania, a beautiful super remote wilderness. I’ve loved these mountains my whole life and have visited every year. Now that I’m a local resident I have been appalled at the parasitic overpopulation and over development that is destroying our wilderness and small mountain towns,” writes Rebecca Bailey. “In my travels, and experience, I have never experienced the amount of people and trash that is ruining this beautiful environment. There must be change, and part of that change is slowing development, not adding more to and already overexposed wilderness.”
And from Mary Connor:
“I have a business in town, but this is a crazy idea. We already don’t have public restrooms and our roads are not going to withstand this amount of traffic. The feel of a quaint village will be gone.”
In addition, to the petition against the development that is circulating, authors of letters-to-the-editor have expressed concern.
“I am one of the signers of the petition to keep the mammoth multiuse development out of Cashiers. I know it will bring jobs — mostly temporary — but is it worth it to trade peace for chaos? I cannot even imagine where all the residents’ and shoppers’ cars are going to be day after day. Probably all the curves on US 64 will have to be straightened; those who have houses sitting back off the road will now be looking at traffic of all kinds 24/7,” wrote Glenda Bell in the Dec. 17 edition of Highlands Newspaper. “And another thought — the developer — what is his history? Can we look at some of his previous projects to see his track record? Maybe I am not giving this project the credit it deserves. What are the upsides of a finished multiuse project? I really want to know how something of that magnitude fits into our plateau community.”
The Cashiers Hillside project was presented to the Cashiers Planning Council on Nov. 16 and there are a lot unknowns involved in the proposed development planned at the southeast corner of the intersection of Highways 64 and 107, better known as the Crossroads.
The project went before the Cashiers Community Planning Council at a quasi-judicial hearing on Nov. 16 where it could have been approved, but Council members voted unanimously to grant a continuance until Jan. 6.
The decision to table the project was made after attorney John Noor filed a motion to grant a continuance to give people affected by the proposed development, time to hire experts to gauge what kind of impact a project of this magnitude would have on the area.
Noor represents multiple clients in the motion, many concerned about the project’s impact on traffic, public safety, property values, land stability issues, and stormwater/sewer management, to name a few. Noor said experts in these areas could not be retained within the approximate two-weeks notice he had of the Council’s meeting to discuss the Cashiers Hillside proposal.
“These and other issues generally require expert testimony be provided,” Noor told the Council. “My clients have the right to be able to produce that evidence through expert witnesses and they could not retain those experts with the amount of time they were given by notice of this meeting.”
Principal of Macauley Investments, Stephen Macauley, said after the Council’s vote to grant a continuance, that issues raised by Noor and his clients are important concerns for a project of this size and its effect on the community.
“The plans for this project were guided by a two-year effort that the community created with Jackson County, which entailed what the residents wanted and envisioned Cashiers to be in the future,” said Macauley. “A big part of that includes infrastructure, including walkability, traffic, and sewer. We will be creating our own Cashiers Hillside water system and onsite sewage treatment facility, not just for the project, but for other businesses and homes in Cashiers. The plan includes spending millions to upgrade the traffic infrastructure in Cashiers. There will be gardens and thoughtfully planned landscaping surrounding pedestrian pathways.”
There are several businesses located within the proposed development site and Macauley said they will be torn down to make room for the project.
“The existing structures will be demo’d, but we have been meeting with those business owners and some have chosen to relocate within the new community,” said Macauley.
With so many unknowns involved in such a large-scale development that would change the face of Cashiers forever, many in the community are undecided in terms of their support for the project.
The Village Green is a 13-acre public park located on the southeast corner of the Crossroads, directly across the street from the proposed development site. TVG Executive Director Ann Self said it’s too early to tell how this project could impact the area.
“What this recent proposal has demonstrated to me is that development is coming to Cashiers,” said Self. “That’s not necessarily a negative thing, but it needs to be planned and managed. The Council made a wise decision to give people a chance to give their input.”
Pictured at the top of the article is the proposed location of the Cashiers Hillside project at southeast corner of the Crossroads.
By Kim Lewicki and Brian O’Shea