Project Faces Scrutiny
The proposed Pine Forest golf course development near West End attracted a stream of questions during the Thursday night meeting of the Moore County Plan-ning Board.
But no one voiced specific opposition.
The biggest questions centered on annexation controversies and whether the county will have more than enough golf courses once Pine Forest is operational. Questions were also raised about water, management of an on-site wastewater treatment plant and destruction of pine forests.
The board took no action during the meeting and continued the issue until the November meeting.
MHK Ventures Inc., the developer, has petitioned the county to change the zoning of 22 parcels totaling 1,652 acres to Planned Unit Development (PUD)-Hamlet. The property is presently zoned for varying residential and agricultural uses as well as for highway commercial.
The site stretches from N.C. 211 southeast of West End to N.C. 73 and abuts the Dormie Club, another MHK enterprise already in the early development stages. The retail/commercial unit would front on N.C. 211.
"It's the first example before us," said Dave Kinney, a Planning Board member and chairman of the Small Area A Planning Committee. And he offered congratulations to developer Bob Hansen.
Board Chairwoman Nancy Roy Fiorillo called the plan "a very good example." She too is a member of the Area A committee.
Kinney was among those asking multiple questions about the huge development, but most speakers agreed that the plan is a good one and generally reflects adherence to the Small Area A Plan, which covers areas in the western part of the county.
If developed as proposed, Pine Forest would be the largest development of this type in Moore County in recent years.
The plan calls for a gated residential community with a neighborhood retail center, two 18-hole golf courses, a nine-hole course, a resort hotel, conference center, fitness center and farmers market. Dwelling units would total 710, of which 300 would be hotel rooms.
'Retaining Natural Setting'
Bob Koontz, who is handling the Pine Forest planning design for the Hobbs Upchurch & Associates engineering firm, listed aspects of the design that conform with goals specified in the Small Area A Plan.
Among them are preservation and conservation of natural and cultural features, including wetlands and water courses, managed growth, provision of more open space in commercial and residential developments, promoting economic development and prohibition of individual irrigation wells where public water is used.
Nick's Creek flows through the tract.
One striking feature of the plan is an on-site wastewater treatment plant that would serve both Pine Forest and the adjacent Dormie Club.
Koontz said that the 753 acres of open space represent more than twice the amount of open space required for a PUD by the county ordinance.
"We're retaining as much of the natural setting as we can," Koontz said. "We're trying really hard to blend in with the natural topography and make it a real Moore County development."
Despite that reassurance, Koontz, engineer Fred Hobbs and developer Bob Hansen were pelted with questions about water sources, management of the wastewater treatment plant, and destruction of pine forest.
Mike Wilson, a member of the Small Area A Committee, said he had no objections to the plan but wanted to know about a proposed extension of Hoffman Road as part of the transportation aspect. He said the Area A plan does not provide for changes on Hoffman Road.
Jesse Wimberley, another Small Area A member, asked about the effect such a large development would have on the aquifer. Hansen said there should be no effect on the aquifer.
They were among several Area A committee members present for the meeting.
Bruce Sorrie, a botanist with the state's Natural Heritage Program, asked if the development's water supply would require an inter-basin transfer. Hobbs replied that this question would be addressed at the next meeting.
"I hope and pray that the county can find a source for more water that won't take it away from Seven Lakes," Kinney said. He is a Seven Lakes resident.
'Too Many Golf Courses?'
Whispering Pines Mayor Bob Zschoche raised questions about the number of golf courses and the prospect of annexation.
Zschoche calculated that if Pine Forest is developed, along with other proposed developments in the area, Moore County will have more than 47 golf courses.
"Are we ever going to get to the point where we have too many golf courses in Moore County?" he asked.
Then he asked about possible annexation issues.
Zschoche did not mention by name the controversy connected with the village of Pinehurst's effort to annex the Pinewild subdivision but did refer to "similar quibbling" in other areas. The N.C. 211 entrance to Pinewild is a few miles from the proposed Pine Forest development.
His first concern was the effect the development would have on water resources serving the village of Whispering Pines. Nick's Creek, which flows through Pine Forest, is a water source for Whispering Pines and flows into Thagard's Lake. He also asked about fire protection.
Koontz said fire protection needs had already been discussed with the county fire marshal.
Community Meetings Held
Joe McDonald reminded the gathering that the land-use plan adopted in 1999 was produced through the hard work and concerted effort of county residents.
He suggested that the county planning staff should direct would-be developers before their design plan is put together, rather than the present process in which the developer prepares a plan and submits it to the planning staff.
Asked about management of the on-site sewer plant, Hobbs said his firm is working on an agreement with the county to cover compliance with environmental regulations. He said the plant would be built to standards acceptable to Moore County Public Works, the department that administers public utilities.
The developer held two community meetings in West End earlier this fall, both in advance of the petition to the planning department.
At the first meeting residents of Archie Road raised objections to a proposal to build a road connecting the development to N.C. 73 through Archie Road.
Residents complained that this would result in heavy traffic along what is now a quiet rural road. The heavy traffic would be generated not only by the development but also by West Pine School adjacent to N.C. 211 and Archie Road.
By the second meeting, the developer had amended the plan to remove that aspect of the transportation plan.
In other business at the Thursday meeting, the board gave unanimous approval to a request by Lisa and Dennis Stambach for a conditional use permit to allow operation of a campground on 33.63 acres on Union Church Road near Carthage.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at (910) 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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