Building Ban Vote Unlikely
The Southern Pines Town Council is expected to delay a vote next Tuesday on a proposed development moratorium after holding a public hearing.
The council had intended to vote on a moratorium ordinance after the hearing.
Mayor Pro Tem Chris Smithson said Wednesday at a joint agenda meeting with the Planning Board that he thinks it is unrealistic to expect the council will be ready to vote that night, "especially on a big issue this controversial."
"I can't see how we can expect to be open-minded coming into the hearing, have the Planning Board spend a couple of minutes to make a recommendation, absorb all that, and make a decision," he said.
Council member Abigail Dowd, who has been pushing the moratorium, said that she has problems with the original draft of the ordinance and also wants to wait to vote.
"It's just a draft," she said. "Mine is all marked up. I think it's definitely going to change."
Planning Board member Liz Whitmore said that she would feel more comfortable if the board would have a chance to reconvene and talk about the ordinance before offering "clear and concise" recommendations.
The problem with waiting to vote is that it extends the pseudo-moratorium the town is under. By law, when a town opts to hold a public hearing on a moratorium, development is halted the moment it votes to hold the hearing. But the town still accepts applications, which would be valid should the council vote down imposing a moratorium.
Town Manager Reagan Parsons has urged the council to get the town out of that gray area as soon as possible.
Smithson asked that the council commit, regardless of whether the moratorium passes, to stick with the action items laid out in the moratorium ordinance. The action items lay out a time frame for the town to adopt a comprehensive plan.
"If everyone is in agreement, we can start the process," Parsons said. "There is no need to wait until April to vote on that."
Mayor Mike Haney said, "I think it's important. We've debated why we haven't got started. We just need to get started."
In other business, Haney again tried to get the council to appoint Baxter Clement, who ran for council last November, to the Planning Board. Councilman David Woodruff said he wanted the council to appoint Marsh Smith, a local attorney and one of the leaders of the anti-Pine Needles Village movement. Haney is against having Smith on the board.
The council decided to leave that seat open for later discussion.
Also, the council talked about asking Weingarten Realty Investors to consider improving the architecture on the proposed Home Depot building that would replace the old Kmart. The proposal will be up for a public hearing Tuesday.
Contact Matthew Moriarty at 693-2479 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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