On Friday, September 5, 2008, several members of the community were invited to tour The Cliffs at High Carolina and participate in a meeting with Jim Anthony (President and CEO of The Cliffs).  This meeting was arranged in response to community questions and concerns about the potential impact of The Cliffs development, and the Tiger Woods golf course, on streams, rivers, and wells in Swannanoa and Fairview.
Mr. Anthony answered a number of questions about water impacts during the September 5 meeting, and also conveyed other information about development plans for The Cliffs at High Carolina.  We wanted to share this information with you.
Please scroll down to see the notes taken during the meeting and tour by Carol Groben, Co-Chair of the Swannanoa Pride Community Coalition, as well as a handout provided to meeting attendees by The Cliffs.
During the September 5 meeting, Mr. Anthony expressed a willingness for representatives from The Cliffs to participate in a community meeting to answer residents’ questions and provide further information about The Cliffs at High Carolina. 
We will keep you advised as additional information becomes available.



RE: The Cliffs at High Carolina

Swannanoa and Fairview, NC

Information provided by Jim Anthony, Pres. and CEO of The Cliffs Communities, Inc.


The development is 3000 – 3200 acres. The Cliffs is done buying property except for one small parcel (approx. 25 acres) that they would still like to purchase. There will be approx. 1200 – 1500 single family & multi-family homesites. Single family homesites will average greater than 1 acre each. Estimate is that 60 – 80% of the homes will be on the Fairview side.

Swannanoa will be the primary entrance to the development; Fairview will be a secondary entrance. Distance from the top of the mountain to Exit 59 in Swannanoa is approx. 4 miles, and should be driveable in 10 minutes. The “Parkway” (main road through the development) runs up the Swannanoa side and down the Fairview side and will be 24 – 26’ wide. It is estimated that the majority of the traffic will enter and exit the development from the Swannanoa side. The Parkway is not yet completed, but it is expected that the grading for the final piece connecting Swannanoa with Fairview will be done by the end of April.

The Cliffs has purchased commercial properties at Exit 59 in Swannanoa (Patton Cove Road). Stores, restaurants, or other amenities built on these properties will be available to the general public, as well as to residents of the Cliffs development.

No wells will be dug in the development. All homesites and Cliffs buildings (clubhouse, etc.) will be on Asheville city water. The development and golf course will be designed to avoid any negative effects on streams and waterways. No sedimentation should be added to streams and rivers as a result of this development.

It is expected that 400,000 gallons of water per week will be needed to irrigate the golf course. Water for golf course irrigation will come from 3 sources:


  • Effluent (recycled city water from homes and other buildings)

  • Captured rain water (stored in cisterns)

  • Lake Tsuga (an existing lake located within the development)


The Cliffs will be on the cutting edge of research into ways to reduce use of water, pesticides and fertilizers on the golf course, and to find organic alternatives to traditional fertilizers and pest controls. They are currently partnering with Clemson University on research in these areas. They have pursued Audubon certification at their other golf courses, and expect to do that at this golf course as well.

This development will have a higher percentage of property placed in a conservation easement than any other Cliffs development.

There will be a heliport on the Fairview side of the development, near the clubhouse. No cell tower is planned.

Many aspects of home design and construction at Cliffs properties are governed by internal rules (known as Architectural Review Committee, or ARC standards) that all homeowners must comply with. The ARC standards will be stricter at this development than at any of the other existing Cliffs developments.

There will be no street lighting in the development. Exterior lighting on the homes is controlled by the ARC standards for the development, and all lighting is required to be “down” lighting.

ARC standards also limit the height and placement of the homes – standards are more stringent on lots that are more visually prominent. All homes are required to be painted in earth tones.

The Cliffs will invest in the surrounding communities. The company gives community grants through a Cliffs fund called the Carolina Legacy Trust. Communities are encouraged to apply for funding. Rick Fisher is the director of this program.


The Cliffs at High Carolina

Residential Community & Golf Course

Overview and Fact Sheet

August 2008

An Introduction to The Cliffs Communities


Since 1991, The Cliffs Communities has developed eight residential/golf course communities in the western part of North and South Carolina. Six of these developments are in South Carolina and include three residential/golf communities in the mountains and three on Lake Keowee. The remaining two developments are in North Carolina and include The Cliffs at Walnut Cove and The Cliffs at High Carolina. Six of the eight communities are in advanced stages of development, with the remaining two communities in the early phases of planning and development. The Cliffs at Walnut Cove, located in Arden, NC, is considered to be in an advanced stage of development, while The Cliffs at High Carolina, located in Swannanoa, NC, is in an early stage.

The Cliffs’ continuing philosophy for sustainable development has led to the creation of The Cliffs Center for Environmental Golf Research in collaboration with Clemson University and several industry-leading private-sector companies, including Toro and Bayer. The Cliffs is also involved in other environmentally conscious projects such as an organic farm, construction of a "Green Showcase Home" and Green Design Guidelines for property owners, and The Cliffs Cottage – Southern Living Magazine‘s first-ever LEED Certified Showcase Home at Furman University. The Cliffs and its property owners together formed Parkland Trust, a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve green spaces and create conservation easements for perpetual protection within The Cliffs’ land holdings. To date, this organization has preserved 1,300 acres and set aside an additional 30 miles for trail systems. The Cliffs has also partnered with Blue Ridge Forever, which is a consortium of conservation groups dedicated to protect land within Western North Carolina. The Cliffs also serves as a Conservation Partner for the Jocassee Gorges in South Carolina, and has recently received a Certificate of Environmental Excellence from South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) for marina operations at The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards community.

In 2007, The Cliffs Communities’ track record of quality development was recognized by CNBC’s International Property Awards as "Best International Development".

An Overview of The Cliffs at High Carolina

The Cliffs Communities’ second development in North Carolina, The Cliffs at High Carolina, is a master planned community on approximately 3,000 acres located on a mountain between the Swannanoa and Fairview communities within Buncombe County, North Carolina. The Cliffs proposes to develop the High Carolina community to include both single and multi-family homes; a village which will include a spa, an inn, a restaurant, a golf shop and other amenities; and a golf course by Tiger Woods Design. The golf course is designed as a walkable course and will include a practice range and a short game learning facility that will serve as the hub for the golf course. The development to-date of High Carolina consists of the construction of the parkway road connecting the main entrance at Exit 59 in Swannanoa to the secondary entrance off Old Fort Road and the residential roads and lots required for the first sales release on November 8th.

A Summary of the Permits Received to Date

In order to construct the planned development at High Carolina, The Cliffs has applied for and received approval for a number of permits. These include the planning approvals from the Buncombe County Planning Commission; the stormwater, land disturbance, and erosion control permits from the Buncombe County Planning and Development Department; and a Nationwide Permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Cliffs at High Carolina has and will continue to comply with all Federal, State, and County ordinances and regulations. Buncombe County officials visit High Carolina regularly to ensure that all regulations and ordinances are being followed. In addition, The Cliffs’ trained personnel inspect all Erosion and Sediment Control measures weekly or after each significant (½" or greater) rain event and report monthly.

The Status of the Section 401/404 Individual Permits

In order to complete the planned development at High Carolina, it will be necessary to alter – or what is technically called impact – a small percentage (approximately 6%) of the State and Federally regulated jurisdictional streams and wetlands located on the property. This activity requires that The Cliffs obtain Section 401/404 Individual Permits from State and Federal Agencies. These alterations include 6,149 linear feet of streams and less than 0.25 acre of wetlands and open water. In order to receive these permits, The Cliffs is proposing to compensate for these alterations – or what is technically called to mitigate – by enhancing or restoring 6,251 linear feet of previously impaired offsite Brook Trout streams and previously piped streams on-site, by avoiding (not altering) nearly 18 miles (93,972 linear feet) of on-site streams, by restoring 0.394 acres of impaired off-site wetlands, and by preserving 0.857 acres of wetlands.

The off-site enhancement or restoration activity will occur at Shoal Falls Farm and is strongly endorsed by the regulatory agencies because the Farm contains classified "Trout Waters" supporting all three species of trout found within North Carolina, "High Quality Waters", and it drains directly to critical habitat for the federally endangered Appalachian elktoe (Alasmidonta raveneliana) in the Little River.

A Summary of the Water Quantity & Conservation Plan

The domestic water for all the homes and amenities at High Carolina will be provided by the City of Asheville from its municipal water supply. At full buildout, the total flow to the development from Asheville Water is projected to be approximately 600,000 gallons per day, all of which will be a net addition to the water balance on the property.

The Cliffs has elected to require that all residences construct and maintain water conservation/detention devices on-site which will recharge the groundwater. The homeowner may select from several options which include cisterns, rain gardens, etc. Currently, High Carolina is the only development in Buncombe County which has implemented this conservation practice.

In addition, the irrigation water utilized for the golf course and surrounding landscape will remain on-site and recharge the groundwater. This water will come from three sources. The first source will be the effluent (discharge) from the on-site wastewater treatment plant which will be treated to reuse standards which is the highest treatment standard in the state. A computerized irrigation system will be used to regulate a consistent watering schedule, using less water more efficiently. A drought will not affect the wastewater treatment plant’s output. The second source will be the rainwater from the amenities which will be collected and stored in cisterns. This water will be blended with the wastewater treatment plant effluent and used for irrigation. The third source of irrigation water for the golf course will be the existing on-site pond. The Cliffs Communities will maintain base flow in the stream below the pond.


Summary of the Water Quality Plan

The establishment and operation of High Carolina should not negatively impact water quality of the area. The Cliffs has an unblemished track record of no incidents or violations with any of the regulatory agencies over the construction and operation of its six completed golf courses and the one currently under construction. Furthermore, at The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards, the eight holes that are located immediately adjacent to the lake’s shoreline have been continually monitored (even during construction) without issue.

The Cliffs will work hand in hand with Clemson University’s Turf Grass Science Section of its Department of Horticulture to finalize state-of-the-art procedures and standards for the construction and operation of the golf course. Water quality issues can be segmented into three categories:


      1. Sediment Loading – All erosion control and stormwater will be permitted through Buncombe County and maintained to the required standards. Although during the construction of the golf course the ground will initially be disturbed (as required by the grading permits), The Cliffs will be installing silt fences and a series of sediment basins to control the runoff and sediment. Once the golf course is established, the trees, shrubs and sod will hold the soil in place, and the soil will no longer be disturbed. In addition, a minimum of a thirty foot buffer will be kept and maintained along all streams in order to filter the runoff prior to entering the stream and to minimize the potential for erosion. Within this buffer, no stormwater devices are allowed and, therefore, none are proposed.


      1. Chemical Leaching – As noted in recent research on golf courses in North Carolina completed by Dr. Tom Rufty of NCSU, the establishment and fertilization of a golf course should not increase the chemicals leaching into surrounding waters. All fertilizers and pesticides to be utilized will be licensed by the EPA for use on golf courses and applied by state licensed applicators utilizing dedicated equipment designed specifically for the appropriate application. An integrated pest plan will be prepared and managed by the golf course superintendent. The plan will include soil and tissue sampling as well as the use of a licensed plant pathologist. All golf course equipment will be washed down at the end of each day using a golf course wash station. The grass clippings will be removed and collected; the wash water will be channeled through a filtered wash system utilizing a sand filter. University and government studies indicate that properly applied pesticides and fertilizers do not leach into groundwater in any appreciable amounts. Modern turfgrass management practices greatly reduce the potential for leaching or runoff into water supplies. Pesticides and fertilizers are used only on certain portions of the golf course such as tees, fairways, and greens. The remainder of the course will consist of drought tolerant, naturalized areas that reduce the need for both water and turf care products.


      1. Water Temperature – The North Carolina Division of Land Resources’ Land Quality Section regulations require a minimum of a twenty-five foot buffer along any stream classified as "Trout Waters". Any piping or hand-clearing within trout buffers requires a variance through the Land Quality Section. Low growing shrubs such as rhododendron, mountain laurel, and dog hobble will be preserved or planted at playovers. This vegetation is native to North Carolina and provides shade and cover for aquatic organisms and keeps the temperature of the water cool. The construction of High Carolina should actually lower the water temperatures in the stream below the dam because The Cliffs will be repairing the existing on-site dam and bringing it into compliance with the North Carolina Dam Safety requirements by adding a coldwater release.


Based on the above plan, sediment, chemicals, temperature and other impacts to the waters in and around High Carolina should minimal or nonexistent.

A Summary of the Traffic Access Plan

The primary entrance to High Carolina will be at Exit 59 off Interstate 40 in Swannanoa. The anticipated completion of the Parkway through the development to this entrance is scheduled to occur by Spring 2009. When this occurs, the majority of the traffic will use the Patton Cove Road entrance.

The entrance to High Carolina off Old Fort Road is the secondary entrance. A NCDOT-approved left turn lane will be added on the east bound side of Old Fort Road at the High Carolina entrance. The traffic on Old Fort Road will be greatly reduced when the Patton Cove Road entrance is complete.

The Cliffs’ Commitment to the Swannanoa and Fairview Communities

The Cliffs’ goal is to make the Swannanoa and Fairview communities and area we work within better for our company and our property owners’ being there. Our company’s philosophy and owners’ interests in the importance of giving back provide many opportunities to be engaged ways that add to the quality of life in the area.

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