S.P. Council Approves Long-Range Plan
Click here to read long-range plan.
The Southern Pines Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the new comprehensive long-range plan.
Mayor Mike Haney called it a "landmark day" for Southern Pines.
Council members said the document isn't perfect but is workable and that it was time to move forward.
"I'm not 100 percent satisfied with the document given to us, and I'm not 100 percent satisfied that we are in agreement with all the changes that the council made to the document," Councilman Chris Smithson said. "But this is not about me. It's about the town, and I feel very confident that this document is very reflective of the general will of the people and their spirit, and reflective of all the great things about our community and the direction that we all want it to go in."
Councilman David McNeill said, "We can leave here tonight and next month continue to tweak it, and tweak it some more, but I think it's time to move on."
The next step will be implementing the recommendations in the plan.
Creating the long-range plan has been an intensive, community-driven process that has taken more than 18 months.
The 219-page plan offers a guide to current and future councils on issues that will likely face the town and offers a prioritized list of issues that the council likely will have to deal with over the next 20 years.
It is not - as some residents have misinterpreted - an ordinance, but rather a reference point for current or future councils in making land-use decisions.
The new plan replaces one that was created in 1988 and was never updated.
The major impetus for the creation of a new plan was the often contentious discussions of the proposed Pine Needles Village, a Planned Unit Development (PUD) that ultimately was denied by the council. The council then enacted a development moratorium to allow the town to update the 1988 plan.
Smithson, one of the most outspoken proponents of updating the long-range plan, said he was glad the process to create the document is over. He expressed hope that the current and future council will regularly revisit and update the plan, unlike its predecessor.
"That document hasn't been touched in well over 20 years," Smithson said. "I hope this time we do a better job of keeping up with our calendar."
The council thanked all of the residents who contributed time, effort and opinions in crafting the plan.
Copies of the plan will be available at the town library and the Planning Department next Monday. It is expected to on the town's Web site, www.southern pines.net, by the end of today (Friday).
Prior to voting, the council continued a public hearing on the plan that began at last month's regular meeting. Several speakers voiced opinions, including some on changes to the land-use map that were made at a council work session on March 26.
During that work session, the council made slight changes and clarifications to some language in the document and adjusted the land-use map.
The affected areas on the land-use map all are near the Moore County Airport. The area commonly known as Poverty Hill and an area on the southwest corner of the small traffic circle at Airport Road and N.C. 22 had a mixed-use designation placed on them.
An area on the southeast corner of the airport traffic circle and adjacent to Sandhills Community College will be given a commercial designation.
Before the changes, all three areas were recommended for low-density residential development.
The designations are not zoning changes, but rather recommendations for future development that could allow residential or light office development.
Those changes were presented to the council and the public prior to reopening the public hearing.
After listening to resident input, the council determined that no issue raised was significant enough to delay a vote.
"A lot of the specific concerns people have that were mentioned tonight will be dealt with in the implementation process through the passing of different ordinances, so we will address the issues brought up tonight," Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Fields said. "But I don't think any of them rise to the level of derailing the plan as presented."
Contact Tom Embrey by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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