S.P. Council Names Long-Range Panel
The Southern Pines Town Council on Monday officially appointed 20 members of the community to its comprehensive plan advisory committee.
In a statement after the 4-0 vote (council member Abigail Dowd is out of town), Mayor Pro Tem Chris Smithson said it is unfortunate that the media chose to focus on who was not on the committee rather than the many excellent members on it.
The council had been criticized for ignoring a letter from five former mayors asking it to appoint former Gov. Jim Holshouser as the committee chairman. The council decided not to put Holshouser on the committee on the grounds that it would be too political.
Smithson said the most important thing is that the town has a committee made up of 20 qualified members that was unanimously agreed on by the council.
"I'll take all the bad press in the world, even if much of it is undeserved," he said, "if it means the public supports the 20 individuals who will be serving on the committee."
Mayor Mike Haney echoed that sentiment, even though he led a fight to include Holshouser.
"We do need to focus on what I perceive to be a high-quality and very representative committee," Haney said.
The committee will advise a consulting firm hired to craft a comprehensive master plan for the town. It will also serve as a liaison between the public and the firm, Studio Cascade, of Spokane, Wash.
The council took a list of more than 115 names and whittled it down to 20. Its primary goal was to have a diverse group that would represent different concerns.
The members are Nora Bowman, Glen Bradley, Beth Carpenter, Jeannie Carpentier, Ellie Collins, Richard Dana, Caroline Eddy, Roy Harvel, Laura Israel, Earl Jones, Veola McLean, Pat McGowan, Hugh Mensch, Edward Monroe, James Moore, Ray Ogden, Ray Owen, Anthony Parks, Deonte Thomas and Shanda Whitaker.
The formation of the committee will allow Studio Cascade to begin the process of determining what direction the town should move.
Bill Grimes, principal of Studio Cascade, had said he wanted to hold two or three public hearings before Thanksgiving. The delay in appointing the advisory committee might have prevented that.
The long-range planning process could take more than the yearlong moratorium on large subdivisions the council enacted earlier this year.
In other business, the council met with members of the Planning Board as part of an ongoing effort to increase communication and erase some long-standing frictions between the council and boards and commissions it appoints.
Smithson said that he would like to see the Planning Board be more proactive and undertake more planning, though much of that may be accomplished in the long-range planning process.
"I hope what we get out of this is a plan that we can all point to and all be on the same page," Smithson said. "That will give people more of an idea of what's going to fly and what's not."
Some members of the Planning Board said that they felt a little useless since the Town Council often ignores their recommendations. The two boards had been more in sync recently, one Planning Board member said.
"If you don't count the moratorium or Pine Needles," Planning Board Chairman John McInerney said.
Haney said even if the council doesn't always follow the Planning Board's recommendations, that doesn't mean the board hasn't done its job.
"I shudder to think of the result if the Planning Board didn't exist," he said. "You get the box first and unwrap it."
Contact Matthew Moriarty at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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