Will Another Apartment Complex Cause More of a Traffic Nightmare?

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Development of a major apartment complex is being considered on whether it's suitable for one of south Asheville's busiest intersections.

Even though developer Rusty Pulliam has made significant changes, people who live nearby say the development will still make a nightmare commute even worse. Opponents are calling on city officials to stop the plan.

Pulliam wants to put an apartment complex just above Mills Gap and Sweeten Creek Roads, possibly worsening an already congested area.

Right now, the plot is an abandoned industrial site where plastic hangers used to be made.

The original plan called for development of 25-acres, including commercial space, but it's been scaled back because of concern from neighbors.

If a zoning change is approved, it will be residential only with 272 rental units on 15 acres. Fifteen percent of those units will be classified affordable.

Well-known Asheville developer Rusty Pulliam's latest project planned to come online sometime in 2018.

He believes it's a perfect fit.

"Folks on that corner can walk across the street to Earthfare, to Ingles, you know, live and walk, they don't have to get in the car and drive," Pulliam said.

But opponents say it's all the other people who drive through every day -- the commuter crunch -- that creates conflict.

"Imagine if we shrunk Merrimon Avenue from four lanes to two lanes across the street from Trader Joe's," project opponent Vijay Kapoor said.

Kapoor is one of many opposed to Pulliam's plan, even with the downsizing.

More then 350 neighbors signed a petition that went to the city planning and zoning commission on Wednesday.

The main complaint is about infrastructure that's not keeping pace with all the development already happening in the area.

But Pulliam defends his project based on a NCDOT commitment to widen Mills Gap, beginning in 2021.

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