Trees to Fall, Make Way for New CVS
By Tom Embrey
A stand of mature trees will come down after all so a developer can build a small retail center in Aberdeen that will host Moore County's first CVS pharmacy.
Aberdeen's town commissioners had been wrestling for almost a week over whether to stand by the town's regulations protecting removal of trees.
But in a special meeting Monday evening, Aberdeen commissioners voted 3-2 that the trees' presence represented a hardship to development and therefore could be removed.
Moseley Real Estate Advisors of Charlotte had asked to remove the trees because they presented an unreasonable burden to development.
Commissioners originally sided with the trees, a stand of about 17 located on the property near the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 15-501. The board just last week had told town planners to work with the developer and find a way to save the trees.
In fact, the board first voted 3-2 Monday to stick to its original position that the trees should remain. Commissioners Pat Ann McMurray, Jim Thomas and Alan Parker stood by the trees, while Robbie Farrell and Walter Wright voted to let the developer remove them.
But after some discussion, McMurray agreed to change her vote.
"I don't think it's a dead deal, but I am hearing two different stories," McMurray said following the first vote.
She said she was under the impression that parking on the site could be altered without harming the development and preserving the trees. Developers, however, said that was not possible.
She also expressed a concern that the developer would not meet its commitments agreed upon, like replacing all the removed trees.
"We've had so many projects come before us and they have not turned out the way we thought they would," she said.
McMurray relented when representatives from the developer reiterated their commitment to replace all the trees they removed with more mature trees and agreed to be bound to it.
Also swaying commissioners was a comment from Bonnie McPeake, one of the property's owners. The site currently has an old hotel, and McPeake said she was worried about an opportunity passing the town by.
If the deal doesn't go through, she told commissioners, the old hotel that is currently on the site would remain, and she likely would not be able to sell the property for another five years.
"It's going to be a boarded- up building at the busiest intersection in Moore County," she said.
In allowing development to proceed, commissioners attached several conditions:
n A schedule will be implemented staggering over time the trees' removal.
n The developer will add trees that are larger and more mature than required by the town's tree ordinance.
n The landscaping for a second adjacent parcel along U.S. 1 would go in at the same time as the landscaping for the pharmacy.
n Developers will post a bond covering the cost of all the trees to be planted.
The developer will still need to bring back a site plan for the second adjoining retail parcel when it is developed.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tem brey @thepilot.com.
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