S.P. Council Likes Revised Plan for Car Dealership
Members of the Southern Pines Town Council proved Wednesday that they can be amiable to car dealerships if they receive a plan they like.
Several council members were critical of a plan submitted last month by Pinehurst Nissan. The council itself was then criticized for being too dismissive of the plan.
Tom Holderfield, owner of Pinehurst Nissan, returned Wednesday for the council's agenda meeting with a new plan that better conforms to the town's architectural standards. The new plan calls for brick to be the primary material.
"A lot has been made of how we responded to the first plan," said Mayor Pro Tem Chris Smithson, who had been critical of the original plan, "but if you had approached with this design and narrative, I think everybody would have left that meeting a lot happier. This is a better way to start."
Councilman David Woodruff also said that he liked the new plan.
"I'm appreciative of the way you responded, too," he said. "This is good to go as far as I'm concerned."
Councilman Fred Walden echoed that sentiment.
The council could vote on the plan at its meeting Tuesday night.
Holderfield said that when he first saw the redesigned plans, he also liked them better. The initial plan submitted to the town looked much like the existing Pinehurst Nissan building on U.S. 15-501.
The new building is part of a planned dealership shuffle. Holderfield is looking to move the Nissan business north along U.S. 15-501 next to its Pinehurst Toyota dealership. Pinehurst Toyota would then move to the former Nissan building and Holderfield's GMC dealership on U.S. 1 would move to where the Toyota dealership is now.
Some residents and business leaders had accused the council of being anti-car dealership after its reaction to the original Nissan plan and its reception to the rezoning of land on U.S. 1 where Steve Jones had hoped to relocate his Honda dealership. Several years ago, the council rezoned land on U.S. 1 near Midland Road to prevent Leith Automotive from constructing several dealerships there. Leith sued the town. The case is still pending in court.
Mayor Mike Haney said Wednesday that the council is sometimes put into a tough position. It wants to support the business community, but it also has to make sure that the businesses are in the appropriate place, he said.
"We respect the business community, and we want to support it," he said. "And yet we have a tremendous responsibility."
Haney said the redesigned plans are nice.
Smithson joked about Holderfield adding a roller skating rink to his design. The dealership will be where the old Jones Skating Rink used to be.
"I've got fond memories of that place," Smithson said.
At the beginning of the meeting, Haney had delivered a slight rebuke to himself and his fellow council members for skirting the line of disrespect when people come in with plans they don't like.
"If I'm guilty of this, please bring it to my attention," he said. "I think all of us are honored to be serving our community at the behest of the voters. I hope, if we are petitioned by anyone, I hope we are all mindful of what we do or say.
"I think everyone here has respect. I hope what we do or say doesn't translate inappropriately to showing someone disrespect, whether we agree with what they bring before us or not. I think everyone deserves the proper respect if they come before us."
Contact Matthew Moriarty at 693-2479 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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