Tyler's Ridge Project Pulled
All of the controversy surrounding the Tyler’s Ridge at Sandhills development evaporated Tuesday when an attorney for the developer withdrew the application for a conditional-use permit.
“We are withdrawing the application in hopes of bringing forth a new application, if that is the wish of the property owner,” David Neill, a Raleigh attorney representing Jim O’Malley, told the Southern Pines Town Council at its monthly meeting.
The move pre-empted a vote by the council on whether the application for the mixed-used development complied with the town’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).
Council member Mike Fields made a motion that the application did not comply because it did not constitute a Planned Residential Development (PRD) since the proposed apartment complex was not a “structurally integrated subdivision” as defined by the UDO.
Essentially, the UDO requires multifamily structures to be at least 200 feet apart and contain no more than 10 units. But those restrictions don’t apply in a PRD.
Plans for Tyler’s Ridge included a commercial development on the north side, featuring small shops and a restaurant. A multifamily development that would have been on the south side included 232 one- and two-bedroom dwelling units on 34.95 acres.
Robert Hayter, owner of The Hayter Firm in Pinehurst, said Thursday that the project’s future would be determined after discussions with his staff, subcontractors and O’Malley.
“We have not made a recommendation to our client because we have to assess the time and cost involved in resubmitting the application,” Hayter said. “We can’t just start over. So far, the project has been a significant waste of time and money for all concerned. I need to have a very thorough conversation with my client.”
Hayter said it was never the intent of his company to submit a noncompliant application.
“That’s not how we do business, but that’s how it turned out,” he said. “We have a positive legacy of past projects in Southern Pines based on quality, sound land use and orderly growth. We’re not going to change who we are because of this situation.”
Instead, Hayter said work needs to be done on the UDO because the current project approval process in Southern Pines is “complicated, uncertain and not that simple.”
“That’s how broken the code is,” he said.
Apparently the council agrees, because it is close to hiring a consulting firm to go over the UDO with a fine-tooth comb.
The document was adopted in 1989 and has been revised numerous times since then.
“We will want whomever is selected to revamp our UDO to hopefully make it more streamlined and more user-friendly,” Fields said Thursday. “The UDO has become so cumbersome and complicated that even town staff and other professionals are missing things. The Tyler’s Ridge application is not the first to have compliance issues arise after it has been submitted to the town.”
Council member Chris Smithson agreed that the process has been “a little difficult for quite some time.”
“It is a little messy,” Smithson said. “I think the overall intent of the UDO has always been good. It just needs to be easier to comply with and easier to enforce.”
Although the Tyler’s Ridge application was withdrawn, Smithson said he wouldn’t be surprised to see a new application soon.
“I don’t think the project is gone,” he said. “It doesn’t appear that they would have to change very much to make it comply with the UDO. It doesn’t seem like they’d have to start from scratch.”
The first time around, the controversial project led to public hearings in back-to-back months at both the council and Southern Pines Planning Board levels. The Planning Board voted 4-2 on Jan. 20 to recommend that the council deny a permit for the 46.3-acre project at the corner of N.C. 22 and Airport Road.
Board members said their decision was based on findings of fact that suggested the development’s proximity to the Moore County Airport could possibly compromise public health and safety.
The property is zoned Planned Development (PD) and is on the west side of N.C. 22 between Airport Road and Aiken Road and across from Warrior Woods Road. The site also adjoins property owned by Sandhills Community College and a private property owner, Esther Frye.
Opposition to the project centers around safety concerns, aircraft noise, a glut of apartments in Southern Pines, current commercial space vacancies in Moore County and the project’s proximity to the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards prohibit the construction of any structure that would encourage public assembly in a runway protection zone (RPZ), areas that extend beyond the edge of a runway.
RPZs are trapezoidal zones that have specific land-use regulations to keep runways clear of any obstacles that could hinder takeoff and landing. They begin 200 feet beyond that area usable for takeoff and landing.
The airport is seeking federal funds for expansions that it hopes to make over the next three years in preparation for the back-to-back U.S. Opens in 2014. Expansion plans include the extension of the airport’s main runway 600 feet toward N.C. 22 and 400 feet toward Hardee Lane in Whispering Pines.
The commercial portion of the project would be in the airport hazard overlay zone, but the residential portion would not.
However, part of the residential portion is under the eventual departure path for planes coming off the main runway at the airport once the expansion is complete.
Hayter told the Planning Board that the information before it complied with FAA standards and data from the airport authority. He also noted that the town has to assume a certain amount of “relative risk” with the property and described the discussion during the Planning Board public hearing as “sensational” and “worst-case.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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