Pine Forest Foes Repeat Concerns
Pine Forest was not on the agenda for a hearing Tuesday, but opponents of the proposed development used the public-comment time to air their concerns.
Water quality, pollution and rare wildlife were among the issues voiced by seven individuals who spoke during the public-comment period that precedes each Moore County Board of Commissioners meeting.
"You can have growth without cutting down trees," said Joe McDonald, president of Save Our Sandhills, a local environmental group that opposes the development.
McDonald called it a "misplaced sentiment" that environmentalists devote too much time to rare wildlife and not enough to human beings.
"We would be wise to consider that we are endangering the world for our grandchildren," McDonald said.
The only action taken by the board on the matter was a decision to reopen the public hearing at the next meeting on Feb. 15.
Planning Director Joey Raczkowski said a number of issues and questions were raised during a Jan. 18 hearing, so he asked that the hearing be continued to address new information.
He said those matters were entered into the record at the Jan. 18 hearing, and there would be no need for this testimony to be repeated when the hearing is continued on Feb. 15.
Once again, Commis-sioner Larry Caddell asked to be recused from the Pine Forest decision because he was mayor of Carthage at the time that a new water treatment plant was built on Nicks Creek, which has headwaters in the proposed Pine Forest project.
This became an issue when information was presented that legally the owners of Pine Forest could draw water from sources on their land if necessary in a time of severe drought, even if water is purchased from another source and despite any agreement with the county.
The matter before the commissioners is a rezoning request by MHK Ventures Inc., the firm planning an 1,800-acre development on a tract southeast of West End and fronting on N.C. 211.
The plan calls for two 18-hole golf courses, a nine-hole golf course, a resort hotel, up to 710 residential units, resort amenities and a neighborhood shopping center.
The developers have offered to pay the county $3 million to extend a water line from Pine Forest to a source of water, probably Montgomery County, sufficient to provide at least a half million gallons daily and up to one million gallons daily. The plan also provides for an on-site sewage treatment facility that would serve the neighboring Dormie Club development, also owned by MHK. The developers propose to irrigate the golf courses with used water.
The agreement between MHK and the county pertaining to the water system development and the sewer and reclaimed waterline construction agreement were also on the Tuesday agenda, but this was also tabled, pending a decision on the rezoning request.
Both votes - for the hearing continuation and on the water/sewer agreements - were unanimous, with Caddell recused.
Most objections raised by opponents during the public-speaking period were familiar.
Bob and Ruth Stolting, who live about a half mile from the Dormie Club and three-quarters of a mile from Pine Forest, voiced concerns about the effect Pine Forest would have on Nicks Creek and surrounding wetlands.
Bob Stolting, who is vice-president of Save Our Sandhills (SOS), said the buffers proposed for the development would be compromised by the golf courses with their cart paths, foot paths, holes and other amenities.
He warned of a further negative impact from toxic runoff from pesticides and herbicides.
Ruth Stolting, SOS secretary, said the rare wildlife on the tract is of national significance.
Bob Ganis, a geologist, warned that the wastewater treatment plant location is close to Nicks Creek and, in the event of a breach, the distance to the water source would be short. He called for an impact study of the proposed development to determine the consequences of a breach in the treatment plant and the consequences of any significant withdrawal of water from Nicks Creek.
Ganis, a native of Moore County, recently moved back to Southern Pines.
Bob Zschoche, mayor of Whispering Pines, said he was speaking as a private resident, not in his capacity as mayor. He expressed concern about the use of water by the development and asked how many golf courses Moore County could continue to water.
Molly Boggis, a member of the Whispering Pines Village Council, added her concern about protection of "our high quality water." She urged the board to reopen the Pine Forest rezoning hearing.
Leonard Tufts asked the source of the water in the proposed water agreement for Pine Forest. He said the on-site sewer plant sounded good but pointed out that golf courses require large quantities of water.
"I feel very strongly that the developer is getting a free ride from the county," Tufts said.
In keeping with board policy, the commissioners did not respond to comments made during the public-comment period.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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