Council Holds Off Vote on Town Home Measure
The Pinehurst Village Council will hold off voting on a developer's request for a zoning text amendment that would increase the density of his town home project.
Developer Mike Doninger has requested that the village change the maximum allowable dwelling density in the Village Residential District - the zoning classification for The Tradition of Old Town - from 5.25 units per acre to 6.75.
After some discussion, the council decided to table the measure until it heard more specifics from Doninger about his plans. The project is on McCaskill Road across from the Village Arboretum.
"We don't need site plan drawings," Mayor Ginsey Fallon said, "but what does he have in mind? And would he be willing to readdress this, look at it again? I think, maybe, that's the way to go."
The change would allow Doninger to divide the six most expensive units on the property in half, by floor level, creating 12 smaller units that could be sold for about half the price. The smaller units would cost about $450,000. Without the change, the full-size units would cost about $900,000.
Doninger said at a public hearing last month that the $450,000 level would be a more attractive entry point for buyers, considering the economy. He said he was concerned that the $900,000 units may not sell quickly.
Council members had differing interpretations of Doninger's plans. Fallon and Mark Parson thought that Doninger's amended plan would reduce the footprint of the buildings, while Doug Lapins and Nancy Roy Fiorillo thought the footprint would remain the same. That troubled Fallon, who made the suggestion that Doninger address their concerns at a future meeting. Doninger was not in attendance Tuesday.
The village's Planning and Zoning Board and planning staff has recommended the council deny the request. Staff members reminded the council that Doninger would have to submit a new site plan and special-use permit in the event the text amendment is approved and the buildings' footprint changes.
"Just because this text is changed to allow a higher density doesn't guarantee him that density," Senior Planner Bruce Gould said. "He has to come back through for a special-use permit and a site plan again, and at that point in time, conditions and negotiations with the developer start all over again."
It appeared that the council was prepared to vote Tuesday. Fiorillo and Lapins restated their inclination to vote against the measure, while Fallon and Parson seemed willing to support it. Councilwoman Joan Thurman was not present.
After more discussion, the council agreed that it wasn't enthusiastic about the project's architecture. Parson suggested that the council use this as an opportunity to talk to Doninger about a more aesthetically-pleasing design, or perhaps smaller units.
"If he came in and said, 'Listen, I'm going to give you some really classy architecture and stuff, give me my six-point whatever (units per acre),' then I'd listen to him," Lapins said, "because I agree with Mark. My concern was with this - and it was equal to the density - was that we just absolutely stuffed these units onto this site."
A few concerned residents cautioned the council against approving the change.
Jeanne Casinella, who said she worked in the construction business for 30 years, said she was skeptical of contractors.
"They will promise and promise and promise, and they don't always live up to their promises," she said.
For the council to change the text, it must adopt a comprehensive long-range plan consistency statement. The planning staff initially wrote one that stated its opinion that the amendment is not consistent with the long-range plan or the NewCore Master Plan, and is not in the best interest of the public. A consistency statement written on the council's behalf essentially contradicts the staff's and says that the amendment is, in fact, consistent.
John Marcum, who opposes the development, said the council's statement is "poorly and clumsily written," and suggested that it be rewritten with a more compelling argument.
"You must feel that there is some argument that would justify overruling all the work that had been done by the planning and zoning staff, by the planning and zoning commission, by the neighbors around The Tradition project," he said.
Village Manager Andy Wilkison said Wednesday that the council would try to bring Doninger in for its next work session April 27. He said he didn't anticipate a vote that day.
Contact John Krahnert III by e-mail at email@example.com.
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