Hearing Continued on Corporate Park
The Southern Pines Town Council agreed, at the recommendation of attorney Doug Gill, to continue a public hearing until its Sept. 12 meeting on a conditional-use permit to allow RAB Investments Inc. to develop an 18-lot Corporate Park and Nature Preserve subdivision. The property is zoned for industrial uses.
Fred Hobbs of the engineering firm Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates, apologized for the changing configurations on successive maps made by a member of his staff that was presented to the advisory Planning and Zoning Board and council.
Because some of the platted lots shown on drawings are on property owned by other individuals, some of whom were at the public hearing at the Douglass Center, the council decided to continue the hearing.
The property is bounded by the east side of U.S. 1 near Aro Corp., North May Street, CSX Railroad track and Yadkin road.
The council did vote to apply for a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant from the state Department of Commerce to help build roads and utility lines for the proposed development. No one from the public spoke during a public hearing on the grant.
Town Manager Reagan Parsons said the Rural Development Center has already awarded the town a $500,000 grant, and RAB Investments will provide $1.7 million, to make a total of $2.9 million needed to do infrastructure for the first phase.
The council delayed a public hearing on a request to rezone five acres in the proposed corporate park from Industrial to General Business-Conditional Use until a later meeting, because the developer has not submitted a detailed site plans showing outlines of building placements and parking as the ordinance requires.
Robert Baillie of RAB Investments wants to build a day care center and restaurant on the five acres to serve the employees of the businesses in the park.
The corporate park is being actively marketed nationally for businesses to buy or lease buildings or lots. Corneal Science has contracted to move into a vacant former Access printing building on Yadkin Road near May Street. Corneal manufactures eye drops and plans to move here from South Dakota.
Councilman Chris Smithson pointed out the town ordinance requires a site plan with details about where structures would go and other layout information prior to the council approving a rezoning.
"We don't want to submit a footprint until we get a client signed up for one of these lots," replied Chris Jordan of the O'Connor Co., a construction contractor.
Smithson countered, "This request is going against the intent of why we're having a General Business Conditional District (rezoning request)... There's no plan, no tenants."
Hobbs said, "As long as everybody (on council) nods and says, 'yes, I think a restaurant is a good idea,' we can say we have approval, subject to site plan approval."
Members of the council indicated that they had no objections to a restaurant. Councilman David Woodruff said his approval was for one "along the lines of a sit-down restaurant."
Abigail Dowd, a member of the Planning Board, told the council that the board had recommended approval of the conditional-use permit with the condition that buffers be required between the surrounding corporate park lots and the three islands of individually owned parcels within it. Some homes are on those parcels.
Margaret Kelly, a member of neighboring Jordan Chapel church on Yadkin Road, expressed worry and confusion about how the church would be affected.
James McNeill, a Pinehurst attorney representing Baillie, said the developer is donating land to the church to enable it to remain there and eliminate a boundary line that runs under the church.
Hobbs said that many of the deeds to property inside the corporate park boundary allegedly belonging to individuals other than Baillie had been researched to find out which ones are "accurate." He said some are old.
Three parcels in addition to the church are "not owned by the developer and nothing can be done to them by the developer," Hobbs said. He added that some are "landlocked now," and could become more valuable when roads are put in and they become accessible.
Jordan assured other church representatives, including Fred Goins, that "we are making all efforts to resolve property issues."
Mayor Pro Tem Fred Walden, whose brother owned the property where the church was moved years ago, said he went to the site but hadn't found a cement property marker. He speculated that it had been covered up.
Mayor Frank Quis said, "I strongly urge the developer to work with the property owners."
The developer of the corporate park has also asked the town to amend the development ordinance to allow greenway trails to be substituted in whole or in part for the currently required cement sidewalks in new developments. Council members expressed mixed feelings on that request.
A manager for Hamilton Beach-Proctor Silex on Yadkin Road near the old printing building where Corneal Science is moving said some of 104 employees would use a trail for exercise.
The council did not indicate when it will consider the rezoning and ordinance amendment requests, only that the public hearing on the conditional-use request will be continued Sept. 12.
In other business, the council approved architectural plans for the Elks Club Country Club to use a modular unit for its pro shop while reroofing the building. The roof caved in after recent rains. The council also approved architectural plans for expansion of Whispering Pines Animal Hospital.
The council held a hearing and voted to annex property in the southeast portion of May Street known as the Desell annexation.
Sara Lindau can be reached at 693-2473 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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