W.P. Council Deals With Traffic Problem
The village of Whispering Pines has a traffic problem.
Village officials had to set up extra chairs for what turned out to be a standing-room-only crowd at the Village Council's meeting in the Village Hall Wednesday.
The issue that brought so many residents to the meeting was traffic -- the threat of more of it on Pine Ridge Drive.
Two new subdivisions plan to have access points on Pine Ridge Drive. Residents of that area pleaded with the council Wednesday to stop that from happening.
The council approved preliminary plats for the Arrowstone and Newbury Ridge subdivisions this summer. The developments will add 167 new homes to Whispering Pines. The village annexed them after approving the plats.
In the past, residents of Pine Ridge have asked if a road could be built over the Blue Dam, which would connect the two subdivisions and therefore spill traffic onto Hardee Lane.
Another solution would be for one or both of the access points on Pine Ridge Drive to be used for emergency access only.
The main entrance to the Newbury Ridge development will be through Blue Farm, a Southern Pines subdivision off N.C. 22. The other will be off Hardee Lane.
According to Nick Herman, attorney for the village, the council cannot require the developers build a road over the dam or otherwise force the developers to change their plans because the council already granted approval. The only way the village could go back and reconsider the matter again would be with consent from the developers.
Approving the preliminary plat authorizes the developer to move ahead with his plans. The council gets to approve the final plat, only to make sure that the developer did what he said he was going to do.
"There was a belief on the part of some people that preliminary meant preliminary," Councilman Bob Zschoche said. "Our attorney basically said preliminary means final."
'Might Be Different Answer'
A member of the audience asked the council how each councilman voted originally. The council responded that the vote was unanimous to approve the plans.
"Would we vote the same way if the vote were taken today?" Zschoche said. "It might be a different answer. If I would have known what the word preliminary meant, I would have thrown my body under the speeding train."
Road Over Dam Questioned
John Tucker, an engineering consultant to the village, said that putting a road over a dam is not a good idea.
"Generally, it's a poor practice," he said. "It's not considered a wise thing to do."
He said it would probably cost about $200,000 in addition to the cost the developer has to spend to bring the dam up to standard.
"Still, we probably shouldn't put a road over the dam," Councilman Randy Saunders said. "But we can close a road. You're the taxpayers. We should listen to you. We still have other options. ... If that means block (the road), then block it. Let's keep Pine Ridge safe for the people that live there now."
Once the roads are built, the village will take them over.
The council can vote to close the roads or have them be for emergency vehicles only, though residents asked the council to make the developers aware of the plan so that they do not build roads that will go unused.
But should the council restrict traffic on both interconnections, that would leave Newbury Ridge as a part of the village, but with no access to the village.
Trash collectors would have to drive to N.C. 22 and through an area of Southern Pines to pick up trash for the Newbury Ridge residents.
"That's something to think about," Saunders said.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has recommended that the interconnection between Arrowstone and Pine Ridge be restricted to emergency traffic only and that the intersection that connects Newbury Ridge to Pine Ridge be made as close to a right angle as possible.
Mayor Giles Hopkins said that the council will take all of the discussion into consideration before making a decision.
Matthew Moriarty may be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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