Tyler's Ridge Hearing Set for Tonight
The Southern Pines Town Council has taken steps to ensure that a second public hearing on the proposed Tyler’s Ridge at Sandhills development runs more smoothly than the first.
The public hearing on the initial application for a conditional use permit for the mixed-use development lasted until 2:30 a.m. the next day and had to be continued until the next monthly meeting.
“That was crazy,” council member Chris Smithson said at an agenda meeting last week. “We’re supposed to be able to stay awake, listen and comprehend what we’re hearing. A midnight deadline is not too bad.”
If the hearing runs past the allotted time, the council agreed, it will be continued at its work session later this month.
Council member Fred Walden also suggested having a sign-up sheet.
“It’s not unprecedented,” Smithson noted.
Town Manager Reagan Parsons said he had no problem with any of the suggestions as long as the council allowed time for “rebuttal” testimony.
The length of Tuesday’s public hearing will be determined in large part by the number of speakers testifying and the ability of Mayor Mike Haney to ensure that the testimony is of an evidentiary nature, because the hearing is a quasi-judicial proceeding.
“I’m going to have the choice to call people who get off line,” Haney said. “The chair is not going to be offended if someone jumps in and says, ‘This testimony is not evidentiary.’ I think the key is going to be staying on track. You can tell how unexcited I am about this role.”
Council member Mike Fields acknowledged Haney’s trepidation.
“I think we may need to help the mayor that night,” Fields said with a smile.
The Southern Pines Planning Board voted 5-0 last month to recommend approval of developer Jim O’Malley’s second application. It heard almost four hours of testimony during its second public hearing and voted the same night.
The initial application saw the public hearing last back-to-back months, and the Planning Board cited safety reasons for voting 4-2 against it last January.
O’Malley, who withdrew that application in April, filed a new application May 26.
Plans for Tyler’s Ridge include a commercial development on the north side, featuring small shops and a restaurant. A multifamily development on the south side includes 216 one- and two-bedroom dwelling units. The 46.2-acre project is at the corner of N.C. 22 and Airport Road.
In a separate vote last month, the Planning Board unanimously approved three conditions — that the commercial development exclude hotels and motels, and bars and nightclubs; and that a review of the project by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) be submitted upon completion.
The Town Council will likely vote on the matter Tuesday if the public hearing is completed.
O’Malley withdrew the initial application after it became clear to him that the application did not comply with the Southern Pines Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).
The move pre-empted a vote by the council on whether the application complied.
The primary changes in the new application include the addition of three single-family lots, the reduction of apartments from 232 to 216, the revision of access to N.C. 22 to improve traffic flow and the FAA review.
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, an alleged glut of apartments in Southern Pines, current commercial space vacancies in Moore County and the project’s proximity to the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens.
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 and the three single-family lots would be in the airport hazard overlay zone, but the multifamily residential portion would not.
However, part of the multifamily residential portion is under the eventual departure path for planes coming off the main runway once the expansion is complete.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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