Honda Plan on Agenda
The Southern Pines Town Council could decide Tuesday on the fate of a Honda dealership proposed for U.S. 1.
Steve Jones Honda wants to relocate its dealership from U.S. 15-501 in Aberdeen to land next to the Days Inn near the Morganton Road exit off U.S. 1 in South-ern Pines.
The council is looking at rezoning that land from commercial to office. A car dealership would not be allowed under the new zoning.
Jones attended the council's agenda meeting last Wednesday. He pledged to work with the council to create something that the town can live with.
Jones says his doctor will not allow him into the current building because he caught a mold spore there that nearly killed him. He has to walk with a cane.
A public hearing on the proposed rezoning will be held during the council's meeting Tuesday night. The council could also vote on the architectural plan for the dealership.
Jones backed off his previous statement that he would fight the town in court if it rezoned the property out from under him.
"I know I was quoted in the paper," he said. "That was because I was angry. But I've gone through my share of legal battles. I don't want any more. If I can make you happy, great. If I can't, please help me get somewhere else. I'm going to be real easy to get along with. I'm tired."
Mayor Mike Haney said he liked some aspects of the design.
"I do like the arches and some of the other things you've done to give it some character," Haney said.
Mayor Pro Tem Chris Smithson pointed out that not all three visible sides of the building are made out of the same primary material. The front is brick, but the sides go from brick to stucco to some siding.
Jones said that Honda asks its dealers to try for that first, to try to keep building costs down. He said he would prefer that the building be made almost entirely of brick. He said Honda will probably agree to some changes, such as possibly dropping the signature blue cone entryway.
"A lot of towns don't like that blue circular thing anymore," Jones said. "They ask us to try for this. If I don't get it, then I can get it changed. It looks like a big can. To be honest, I wish you guys would tell them to go take a hike."
Smithson said, "We can probably accommodate that."
The council asked for some more information on what changes Honda might agree to and the different colors Jones planned to use. It also asked what he would do to make the dealership look better to residents living in the houses behind it.
Jones said the building looks smaller from behind and will be heavily landscaped.
Councilman David Woodruff thanked Jones for his willingness to work with the town. He said that everything the council does is for the benefit of Southern Pines. There are no personal agendas, he said.
"I live in Southern Pines," Jones said. "This is where I'm going to stay. My children are going to come back here. I want to get along."
The council had previously looked at a plan for another car dealership, Pinehurst Nissan, to be located on U.S. 15-501 near Murray Hill Road.
Jeff Westall, an architect from the Atlanta area, said the design is a compromise between what Nissan wants and what the town wants. The building would not have a large metal Nissan logo on the front, as does the current dealership on U.S. 15-501.
The council did not like the fact that the front of the building would be a stucco material while the back would be brick.
"You put the brick in the back?" Council member Abigail Dowd asked, incredulously.
The building would be the first part of an expansion plan for several dealerships, Westall said. The Nissan dealership would move to the new location. The nearby Pinehurst Toyota dealership would move to the old Nissan building, and the Toyota dealership would become a General Motors dealership.
Westall said that the closer the building looks to Nissan's ideal, the more financial assistance the owners will receive from the company.
"We understand Nissan has corporate standards," Smithson said. "Southern Pines has standards too. ... I'm waiting here for a compelling case as to why Southern Pines should adopt Nissan's style rather than Nissan adopt Southern Pines' style."
Dowd said that the design of the building would be all wrong for Southern Pines.
"I can see this being great on the moon or maybe Atlanta," she said. "This just doesn't hit it at all for Southern Pines."
Haney tried to get Dowd to suggest specific changes to the plan.
"I'm not going to be picky about one little thing, since I think the whole thing misses the mark," she said. "In terms of what I think Southern Pines is, tweaking this is not going to cut it for me."
The plan will probably be removed from the agenda before the Tuesday regular meeting. Tommy Holderfield, managing partner, said he'd rather take it off than have the council vote it down.
He said: "I have a pretty good idea how the vote would go."
Contact Matthew Moriarty at 693-2479 or by e-mail at moriarty @thepilot.com.
More like this story