Pinehurst Board Tables Proposed Amendment
The Pinehurst Planning and Zoning Board on Thursday tabled a proposed zoning ordinance amendment that would prohibit even more types of offices on the ground floor of downtown buildings.
The board held a public hearing before voting 4-2 to put off action until its next meet at 4 p.m. Oct. 2. Business owners and other speakers appeared to be evenly divided over the issue.
The board is advisory and can only make recommendations to the Village Council, which will have the final on whether to approve the change. The council will also hold a public hearing before voting.
Planning Board Chairman Art Chalker said the point of the meeting was not to take sides, but to listen to all sides of the issue before making a decision.
"Our objective is to be fair," Chalker said. "There's no right or wrong in anything we do. We're trying to come to grips with what we're hearing from business owners."
The text changes are designed to encourage more retail shops in the village's downtown area. If approved, it would add banks and financial institutions to the list of offices that are prohibited on the ground floor "of the principal building" in any circumstance.
The current ordinance says offices can be located on the ground floor as long as the ground floor "is occupied by at least 50 percent retail uses in frontage and area." That clause would be removed under the proposed change.
Banks and financial institutions currently located on the ground floor would be grandfathered and would not be affected.
The proposed amendment would also eliminate a 120-day period in which a nonconforming use can be discontinued and re-established. If approved, it will be changed to read "any cessation in use shall result in the discontinuation of that use and the space may only be reoccupied by a conforming use."
During the hearing, some business owners contended that the downtown is being dominated by banks and offices and that there is a desperate need for more retail. They pointed out that Pinehurst Resort is busing guests to downtown Southern Pines.
Building and property owners, on the other hand, argued that their property rights are being infringed upon by the village "legislating" what tenants can and cannot rent space in their buildings.
Deborah Myatt, who owns Le Faux Chateau in the village, supported the changes and said more retail is needed.
"People are craving retail," Myatt said.
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