Village Zoning Changes Resisted
Some Pinehurst business owners are upset about proposed changes to the village's zoning ordinance that they say could make it more difficult to allow more offices in the downtown.
Tom Stewart, who owns the Harvard Building and Old Sport and Gallery in the village, expressed his displeasure with the possible changes in a phone interview with The Pilot Tuesday. He said he is not the only one upset by them.
"It's incredible that they could play fast and free with people's property," Stewart said. "How can these people go against free enterprise?"
The proposed changes are aimed at increasing the number of retail busineses and would probihit certain kinds of offices on the ground floor of downtown buildings.
Stewart said the changes are an attempt to generate a more tourist-oriented business district, offering a greater variety of shopping. He questioned the need for more shopping, adding that there are plenty of retailers within a close distance of the village.
He argued that Pinehurst was never intended to be a tourist town, but instead a residential-resort community. He said there is a large difference between the two.
Stewart, who has owned property and a business in the village for the past 12 years, said offices and banks are integral parts of the community.
"What makes this is a great community is that we all get along," he said.
Stewart is worried that by regulating offices, the village could be subjected to an infusion of national chains.
No decisions had been made on the ordinance yet. The village Planning and Zoning Board tabled the proposal during its Sept. 4 meeting. It will hold a public hearing at 4 p.m. Thursday. Village planners declined to comment until after that meeting. The board could make further changes or table it altogether at that meeting.
Because the board is only an advisory body, final action on the issue would have to come from the Village Council.
Stewart's Harvard Building contains space for 20 offices. He also owns the building for a bank out front. He said the zoning ordinance would make it impossible for him to re-lease the building, which was designed specifically for a bank, to another tenant if the bank decided to move.
Stewart said it made no sense that the village would try to limit offices. He considers them to be retailers also, arguing they provide goods and services just like stores.
"If we didn't have those people, we wouldn't have a village," he said.
Stewart is a proponent of letting the free market determine supply and demand. He said the village's attempts to restrict offices are inherently "un-American." He also questioned the constitutionality of the move, saying the village was trying to enact a form of eminent domain. He didn't understand why the village would attempt to disrupt the status quo.
"The village is thriving. Why interrupt it?" he said.
Contact John Krahnert at 693-2473 or by e-mail at jkrahnert @thepilot.com.
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