Council Discusses PD Changes
The Southern Pines Town Council discussed an upcoming public hearing on a text amendment that would allow mixed-use development in Planned Development (PD) districts at its agenda meeting Wednesday.
Robert Koontz, director of land planning at Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates, has applied for a text amendment that would add language on commercial use that was previously found in the ordinance prior to 2004 and also clarify language on residential development in the district.
Koontz has said the amendment will bring language in the town's existing zoning ordinance up to date with the recently adopted Comprehensive Long Range Plan (CLRP).
The current ordinance for PD districts says mixed-use development is permissible to encourage "planned, large tract development including service, office and limited light industrial uses."
On Sept. 23, the Planning Board recommended the amendment with a few minimum acreage requirements for development uses in a 4-1 vote. The board recommended that parcels less than 10 acres be required to have one use.
Parcels greater than 10 acres, but less than or equal to 60 acres, would require a minimum of two uses, along with a stipulation that prevents a single use from occupying more than 80 percent of the property.
Parcels greater than 60 acres would require a minimum of three uses. No single use can occupy more than 75 percent of the property.
Councilman Chris Smithson said though he agrees with the goal of changing the ordinance so that it agrees with the CLRP, he does not believe the amendment ensures the "traditional mixed-use development" defined in the plan.
He quoted the CLRP's definition of "traditional mixed-use," which refers to larger, undeveloped tracts of land that are "well-suited to mixing residential and non-residential uses in a manner similar to that found in downtown Southern Pines."
The Pine Needles property, which came under dispute with a proposed mixed-use development project four years ago, is specifically mentioned in the definition as an ideal tract for mixed-use development.
The Town Council ultimately voted not to approve the project, but the project motivated the council to develop a Planned Urban Development (PUD) zoning ordinance in order to accommodate similar "large-scale, master-planned, mixed-use development" proposals in the future.
Smithson said he understands why Koontz chose to pursue a text amendment to the PD district, rather than submitting an application to rezone the Pine Needles property to PUD, given the controversy that surrounded the land originally.
But he also reiterated that PUD zoning exists so that the town can participate in direct collaboration with an applicant to develop a larger piece of property in a way that is true to the town's vision of "traditional mixed-use" development.
"We did spend nine months developing the PUD because we thought that was the right way to go to have this collaboration on larger tracts," he said. "There are a lot of good things in that ordinance, and a lot of time was spent getting it to the satisfaction of the town."
Smithson also questioned the acreage requirements and percentages recommended by the Planning Board. He said that having more than 80 percent of one use, such as residential development, could be a better use of a property in some cases.
"That may not be a bad thing if you have this commercial core," he said.
Councilman David McNeill asked Smithson if he felt the council should proceed with the public hearing given his thoughts on the proposal.
"We can work on this and build something into it to ensure that [the property] develops as traditional mixed-use," Smithson said.
Council member Fred Walden said the board should proceed with the public hearing on Tuesday and then consider how to move forward on the amendment.
The public hearing for the amendment is scheduled for the council's next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Douglass Community Center.
Contact Hannah Sharpe at email@example.com.
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