Rule Change Proposed for Developments
On Thursday, the Southern Pines Planning and Zoning Board will consider a proposed text amendment that would address mixed-use development in the town's Planned Development (PD) districts.
Robert Koontz, director of land planning at Hobbs, Upchurch & Associates, has submitted the text amendment to clarify language in the existing ordinance and bring the PD district into conformance with the recently adopted Comprehensive Long Range Plan (CLRP).
The current language in the amendment could mainly affect how the Pine Needles property, which came under dispute in a mixed-use development proposal before the Town Council two years ago, develops in the future.
If the town ultimately approves the amendment, the property's owners, the Peggy Kirk Bell family, could potentially propose a project similar to the proposal that the Town Council voted down previously.
Bell's son-in-law, Kelly Miller, who is also president and CEO of Pine Needles and Mid Pines golf resorts, says that his family has no interest in bringing a similar proposal back to the town and the amendment makes the property compliant with the CLRP.
"The town spent a lot of money and a lot of time doing a long range plan," Miller said. "So we're adhering to the long range plan."
But Koontz said the point of the amendment is more general: to make the current language on the zoning ordinance consistent with the language of the CLRP.
"There is no project planned," he said. "It's a matter of trying to get the ordinance prepared in order to meet the goals of the Comprehensive Long Range Plan."
Koontz is asking the board to revert back to language employed before 2004 on residential development and commercial use in the district.
In 2004, the Town Council approved a text amendment that removed the ordinance's original language detailing commercial use and residential density.
Residential development is currently permitted in the district, but the current language is not clear on the level of density a development could have.
The town developed the PD district as a mixed-use district in its initial CLRP in 1989. The original language established single-family density in the PD district equal to that of the RS-2 district with 2.1 dwelling units per acre.
Permitted commercial uses in the original language are similar to the those allowed in the General Business district, but the proposed amendment stipulates that commercial uses be allowed only on PD districts larger than 300 acres.
The Pine Needles property would be the only PD district that could develop with commercial use if the amendment passes as is; however, the Planning and Zoning Board is considering changing the text to allow commercial use in all PD districts.
The board also wants to allow multi-family residential use in the district.
According to Koontz, the 2004 change in language removed the ability for the district to develop "in the spirit of the traditional mixed-use area" as described in the current CLRP.
"We need to modify the Planned Development district, so that at some point in time, if a project were to come along down the road, it could meet the goals of the Comprehensive Long Range Plan," Koontz said.
The CLRP lists potential mixed uses in the PD district as "office, service and light manufacturing and assembly on larger tracts of land where utilities and facilities can be extended."
The CLRP also describes a Traditional Mixed Use overlay that applies to larger, undeveloped tracts of land that are "well-suited to mixing residential and nonresidential uses in a manner similar to that found in downtown Southern Pines." This description lists Morganton Road and the "Pine Needles area" as likely locations for this type of development.
The Southern Pines Planning and Zoning Board will meet at the Douglass Community Center Thursday at 7 p.m.
Contact Hannah Sharpe by e-mail at email@example.com.
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