S.P. Board Moves On PUD Proposal
An independent review of a draft Planned Unit Development (PUD) ordinance and recommendations for any changes will be on the agenda for the advisory Southern Pines Planning Board meeting next month.
Town Manager Reagan Parsons and Planning Director Bart Nuckols will select a professional consultant from among a list of five. Three submitted information and cost estimates, which were reviewed at a Thursday work session of the Planning Board.
New board members Abigail Dowd and Elizabeth Whitmore submitted the names of two more consultants that had not been identified earlier. They, too, will be contacted and invited to submit information, Nuckols said Friday morning.
The first three were Clarion Associates of Chapel Hill, Code Studio Inc. of Austin, Texas, and The Wooten Co. of Raleigh.
Former Southern Pines Planning Director Buddy Blackburn works for The Wooten Co. The firm offers engineering, planning and architectural services.
Dowd said she traveled to Davidson and learned about two highly recommended companies, Randall Art in the New England area and Dover Cole & Partners.
Dowd and Whitmore seemed to favor Clarion or Code Studio, should the consulting firms they recommended not pan out. They said The Wooten Co. would be their least preferable one.
Chairman Chris Arnold chided Dowd and Whitmore mildly for surprising the board with new names since they'd had two weeks to notify the planning department of their two additional prospects in time for the announced meeting date of Dec. 7.
Whitmore commented that there is no "statutory" requirement that the town act on a request from the developers of Pine Needles Village to create PUD zoning district that could be used to help provide a framework for them to build a large mxied-use development between U.S. 1 north of Southern Pines and Camp Easter Road on Bell family property. The Bell family owns Pine Needles and Mid Pines.
The developers of Pine Needles Village had also filed an application to rezone nearly 1,000 acres to PUD, should the town create the new district. The project would have more than 1,100 residential units, shops and other commercial developments. A number of residents oppose the development, mainly because of the density.
The developers agreed to temporarily withdraw the rezoning application to give the town time to create a PUD.
Town leaders have repeatedly cautioned residents that creation of a PUD ordinance is separate from Pine Needles Village because it will apply to the entire town and its extraterritorial zoning jurisdiction.
A PUD would apply to large, mixed-used developments that would be built in stages over many years. It is designed to provide some flexibility to alter the development as market conditions change.
Dowd and board member John McInerney, a former town councilman, each said they hadn't received the materials on the three prospects from Nuckols until the day of the meeting.
But no one had any objections to the town manager and planning director selecting the consulting firm themselves, using money already budgeted for professional services.
Estimated costs of the work from the three firms that submitted bids was between $4,000 and $5,000 to conduct the fairly limited job of reviewing the mechanics and language provisions of the draft PUD. The draft was prepared by LandDesign Associates, which works for Hines, the company hired to develop Pine Needles Village.
The Planning Board recommended that the town have an independent consultant review the proposed draft of the ordinance, rather than rely solely on a company that also works for the developer.
Parsons said he was "impressed" with Clairon's presentation, which had mentioned the need to consider when the proposed PUD district "fit with the town's other development standards."
"I would think any of the five firms (including the two new ones that he later said he didn't know) would have the ability to address the objectives, the mechanics, on the document," Nuckols said. "This is not a philosophical review."
Parsons agreed each of the firms mentioned could do the job.
"A lot of the balance sought in this ordinance is a community-based thing, based on what you (the planning board) and council work out," Parsons said, cautioning the board that the Town Council will make the final decisions.
If the council ultimately decides not to create a PUD in the zoning ordinance, the Bell family has said it will still develop the land, which is zoned mostly Planned Development. Multi-family housing is not a permitted use in that zoning district.
After a three-hour public hearing Nov. 15 on the proposed draft of the PUD, the board asked the Town Council to hire an outside consultant.
Planning Board members say LandDesign has ignored several requests from them to incorporate public review by the board and Town Council of incremental development plans along the way. Under the original draft, the review would be handled by the planning staff.
Other issues included a provision that would count golf courses and ponds as "open space." Other parts of the town's Unified Development Ordinance don't allow that to be done in planned subdivisions.
Flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions and tighter control by the town authorities are frequently mentioned as "selling points" for the PUD by developers. But the key to controls is in the details of the ordinance, board members said.
Hines' project manager Lane Gardner and Kelly Miller, president and CEO of Pine Needles and Mid Pines, sat in on the work session, as did several opponents of Pine Needles Village.
Whitmore has said that before the Town Council holds a public hearing on any final draft of PUD ordinance, after the outside consultant's review is completed, the town should hold a public information session. Parsons said that should occur before the council holds its public hearing.
Sara Lindau can be reached at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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