Council Likely to Approve PUD
If the proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning classification comes up for a vote at the Southern Pines Town Council's regular meeting Tuesday, it is likely to pass.
The public hearing on the proposed PUD zoning is still open, but the council may vote on the issue as soon as the hearing is closed. Normally, the council waits about a month before voting.
The members of the council, except one, all said they were leaning toward voting in favor of the PUD ordinance or at least indicated that there were some things they liked about it.
"I'm inclined to approve it," said Councilman Chris Smithson, "but it's not definite."
Smithson said that the council members should keep an open mind until the conclusion of the public hearing, and there are several issues that he wants more discussion on, such as the open space requirement.
Councilman David Woodruff said that if the PUD comes up for a vote Tuesday, he would probably vote against it. He said that he thinks the town needs a comprehensive land-use plan before adopting a PUD ordinance.
"I'm not against a PUD per se," Woodruff said. "I'm concerned that it is a little bit out of sequence. ... Probably I would vote to approve it at a later date."
Right now the ordinance is written so that PUD zonings can apply only to tracts of land 50 acres in size or larger. That would mean there are only a handful of areas in the entire town that could be zoned PUD.
Councilman Fred Walden said he is for PUD in principle, though he thinks there is still some work that needs to go into this particular ordinance.
"I'm leaning toward being in favor of a PUD," he said. "I think that it's a tool that we need. I just don't know how we are going to do on this one."
Member Mike Haney said that he hopes to see the council vote on the PUD Tuesday. After a little hemming and hawing, Haney said that he too would likely vote in favor of the PUD, assuming the board gets "all the stars aligned."
"We certainly do not want to rush an issue that serious," he said.
Mayor Frank Quis declined to say whether he would like to see the issue come up for a vote. The board generally decides in advance whether it is going to vote on an issue, he said. It did not do so prior to Tuesday's meeting.
Quis would not have to vote on the PUD unless to break a tie. He also refused to say which way he would vote in the event of a tie.
"You're asking me to reveal a lot," he said. "I do see some advantages of a PUD as a planning tool." Quis did say that he finds the higher standards and impact studies that a PUD requires "beneficial."
Southern Pines is considering adopting a PUD ordinance at the request of Hines, the developer of the proposed $400 million Pine Needles Village. Hines wants to develop the huge property between Midland Road and N.C. 22 as a PUD.
The PUD has met with strong opposition from many town residents, some of whom have had signs and stickers made up. Many of those against the PUD are against the Pine Needles Village and say that the town shouldn't do anything to encourage such developments.
Southern Pines held a public hearing in March on the PUD. Some criticized the town for holding a hearing on a proposed shopping complex on Morganton Road prior to the PUD hearing. Incidentally, Quis said that a PUD zoning would work well for the Morganton Road development.
Southern Pines has also been criticized for allowing the developer to craft the PUD ordinance. The town planning board has recommended approval and an outside consultant has examined the ordinance and called it a useful tool to control growth.
"The county is in a growth mode right now," Haney said. "We as a whole are facing a lot of growth pressures. We need to equip our staff and decision-making bodies with the appropriate tools to deal with it properly."
Matthew Moriarty may be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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