S.P. Board Working On PUD
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The Southern Pines Planning and Zoning Board will continue work Tuesday on a proposal to create a new Planned Unit Development zoning district.
The board will hold the second of two work sessions on the proposal at 6 p.m. at the Train House on the Campbell House property on Connecticut Avenue. The first session last Monday drew a large audience.
While this is not specifically about the proposed Pine Needles Village, the development is on the minds of many residents. The developers of Pine Needles Village asked the town to create a Planned Unit Development (PUD) category and then rezone nearly 1,000 acres between Camp Easter Road and U.S. 1 to PUD.
The proposed development would have more than 1,100 residential units, shops and other retail businesses, a hotel, offices and parks. It would be developed in stages over time.
The Bell family, which owns Pine Needles and Mid Pines, owns the property. The rezoning would also cover the existing Pine Needles Lodge and its golf courses.
A number of residents spoke against the proposed development during a public hearing Aug. 24 by the advisory Planning Board.
Many speakers, and even members of the board, had questions about what exactly a PUD is.
Kelly Miller, president of Pine Needles and Mid Pines, announced at the hearing that the developers would withdraw their plans and rezoning request temporarily, to give the town time to create a PUD district.
Town leaders said they did not want to allow the creation of a new zoning district, which would affect the entire town, from becoming entangled in opposition to a specific development.
Residents who live in the nearby McDeeds Creek subdivision and other single-family homes surrounding the proposed development expressed concerns about its impact on the area.
Although a single "spine road" would run through it from east to west to connect it to both major roads and for an internal road network, concerns about traffic impact were among the first concerns expressed.
Miller and attorneys representing the Pine Needles Village project attended the first special work session at the Douglass Community Center last Monday.
Meg Nealon, a consultant with LandDesign's office in Charlotte, received a list of development standards members of the Planing Board wanted to be addressed in the draft of the ordinance creating the new district. The developers of Pine Needles Village have hired LandDesign to plan its project.
Nealon will present her draft to the board at its meeting Tuesday.
Standards to be set in the new ordinance include density limits, minimum and maximum design standards, and minimum tract size of 50 acres. Also on the list of standards is a conversion schedule, which would allow developers to substitute uses from the approved master plan as the market changes over years it could take for build-out.
The board also wanted Nealon to deal with park size and open space requirements, walkability design standards, and special-use exceptions.
Nealon several times repeated the ordinance should allow "flexibility" for the developer to adjust to changing market conditions.
The present zoning districts on the Bell property are RS-2 (Single Family Residential) and Public Private Conservation District, but the most is PD (Planned District.)
Bob Koontz, principal of LandDesign's office in Southern Pines, said PUDs cluster new self-contained "villages" closer to the main town, to more efficiently extend urban services without encouraging urban sprawl unnecessarily further into rural areas.
Smaller PUDs have been done in parts of Moore County in rural but fast-developing areas such as Seven Lakes, according to board member Tom Marsh, who was formerly on the staff of the Moore County Planning Department. Board Liz Whitmore and Nealon agreed PUDS are usually found in metropolitan areas.
"The explosion outward of the impact of this project (needs to be addressed)," board Chairman Chris Arnold said. "It seems to me you (LandDesign) ought to undertake a traffic impact analysis."
The developer wants to get the development under way before the start of the 2007 U.S. Women's Open at Pine Needles in June.
Board member Abigail Dowd said Monday she was concerned that consultant hired by a developer is also drafting the proposed zoning ordinance amendment.
Board member John McInerney, a former town councilman, said, "If we want to have a PUD, we need to be careful as possible as to what goes into it. Something can sound good, and when you look behind the curtain, there's something going on. I don't want to get burned."
Arnold said there's a "benefit to Southern Pines to get PUD," because "we can require the developer/applicant to look closely at all the various impacts as a conceptual master plan is prepared for the PUD. It's a tool we don't presently have."
Dowd added that the process is working "backward." She said a long-range visionary master plan for Southern Pines should be developed first.
"We have yet to hear a staff reaction," she said. "I expected this work session to be more among the planning board."
Board member Liz Whitmore said she had an open mind. "If the town wanted PUD, it should have addressed that long ago."
Sara Lindau can be reached at 693-2473 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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