EDITORIAL: Correct Approach On PUD Request
The decision to separate consideration of a proposed Planned Unit Development amendment to the Southern Pines zoning ordinances from a request to rezone nearly 1,000 acres for Pine Needles Village to that new category -- should the Town Council adopt it -- is a good move for the town and the developers.
We applaud Kelly Miller and the Bell family, which owns the land for Pine Needles Village, for agreeing to take consideration of the rezoning request and the development plans off the table until the town can craft a Planned Development category in its zoning ordinance.
"The PUD is bigger than Pine Needles Village," Miller told the audience during a public hearing before the town's Planning and Zoning Board Aug. 24.
There are obviously a lot of questions about what exactly a Planned Unit Development (PUD) is. Maybe it will be a good tool for managing the growth of the few remaining large tracts. PUDs are geared toward long-term, multi-stage and mixed-use developments, a category that certainly could apply to something like Pine Needles Village.
PUDs are master-planned projects that are developed over time. Plans for different stages of the development would be approved as it progresses. The Town Council is apparently serious about learning more about PUDs. It visited two of them Tuesday in Chapel Hill.
The town needs to get all the details worked out on the PUD amendment -- and hopefully come up with something everyone can live with -- before entertaining a request from any developers.
The developers of Pine Needles Village want the town to rezone its land between U.S. 1 and Camp Easter Road to allow more than 1,100 residential units, retail businesses and offices. Judging from the reaction of many of the people who attended the Aug. 24 public hearing, there is considerable opposition, because of the sheer size and density of the development. Many speakers expressed fears about the impact such a project could have on the surrounding area, such as the increased traffic.
Those are legitimate concerns that the developers of Pine Needles Village can address and mitigate. But let's get the zoning amendment issue resolved first.
As Councilman Chris Smithson rightfully said, consideration of the proposed PUD amendment, which would affect all of the town, shouldn't become entangled with any opposition to Pine Needles Village. One thing at a time.
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