Village Project Set to Move Forward After HPC Approval
By Tom Embrey
Renovation of Pinehurst's sand parking lot and the Tufts Memorial Garden will move ahead after months of legal wrangling that delayed the project and cost the village more than $33,000 in attorney fees.
The Pinehurst Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) on Thursday unanimously approved a certificate of appropriateness for the project, more than five months after the project came before the board and was originally rejected.
That denial set in motion a string of appeals and legal consultations that cost the village $33,198 in fees split among four attorneys.
Village Manager Andy Wilkison said the Village Council will hold a hearing on the project's site plan at a Jan. 8 meeting. He said the project is currently out for bid, and those bids are likely to be back soon.
The major site plan could be considered at that meeting following the public hearing. If it is approved, then the council could consider the bids and award a contract, Wilkison said.
If all that happens, work "could start in late January or early February," he said.
The detail of work includes replacing the sand surface in the parking lot with a sand-colored stone. The lot would also be shifted to add more spaces and open up the area next to the Given Memorial Library and Tufts Archives where the Tufts rock - the center of the village - and the Memorial Garden are located.
Thursday's unanimous approval of the renovation didn't come without words of caution from Preservation Commission Chairman Howard Warren.
"Approval of the (certificate) is based on the plans and information presented to us at that meeting, and if any changes are made to the plan, it must come back to us," Warren said.
The commission initially rejected the project in July, citing concerns over the removal of trees and the size of the parking lot, and how it might encroach too much on the Village Green.
The village appealed the ruling to the Board of Adjustment. After arguments from attorneys for the village and the HPC, the Board of Adjustment ruled in favor of the Village and ordered the commission to approve the work. The commission had 30 days to appeal.
In November, the HPC delayed the matter, with Warren saying the commission had issues with the wording of the order.
Earlier this month, a revised order was signed. The new document removes wording that said the commission's July decision was "arbitrary and capricious."
The new order reads instead that the commission's decision was "erroneous."
The village has been pushing to get the project under way so that it can be completed in time for June 2014, when Pinehurst hosts the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open in back-to-back weeks.
Also during Thursday's meeting, Warren announced that commission member Joyce Franke would be resigning her position effective immediately. Warren and the other commissioners thanked Franke for her service.
Franke said she was "happy to have served," and would be taking another opportunity. She didn't elaborate on that opportunity, other than to say more information would be forthcoming next month.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tembrey@ thepilot.com.
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