Legal Issue Delays Vote on Tyler's Ridge
The immediate fate of the Tyler's Ridge at Sandhills mixed-use development will apparently come down to a legal interpretation.
Southern Pines Town Council member Chris Smithson argued Monday that the application for a conditional-use permit cannot be approved as presented in that it does not constitute a Planned Residential Development (PRD), because the proposed apartment complex is not a "structurally integrated subdivision" as defined by the town's Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).
"It seems that (Tyler's Ridge) does not comply with our ordinance," Smithson said at the council's monthly work session. "I think we have an issue ... unless we choose to ignore our ordinance."
Town Attorney Doug Gill apparently agreed.
"There seems to be a conflict," he said. "That doesn't mean that Mr. Smithson or I am correct."
The council was scheduled to vote on the matter but deferred decision until Gill can provide guidance at the next monthly meeting on April 12.
"The clarification being sought is an interpretation from (Gill) as to whether the development constitutes a PRD," Town Manager Reagan Parsons said Tuesday. "This is a compliance issue. It all comes down to whether the application fits the UDO or not."
Essentially, the UDO requires multi-family 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 include a commercial development on the north side, featuring small shops and a restaurant. A multi-family development that would be on the south side would include 232 one- and two-bedroom dwelling units on 34.95 acres.
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.
Council members deliberated for 90 minutes Monday until the compliance issue was raised, which prompted Mayor Mike Haney to briefly consider reopening the public hearing.
"Instead we're going to take a short punt, and the matter is postponed until we hear from Mr. Gill," Haney said.
Parsons called the move "a reasonable way to proceed."
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 email@example.com.
More like this story