Plan Aimed at Helping West Southern Pines Grow
Southern Pines Town Council member Fred Walden remembers when West Southern Pines was almost entirely self-sufficient.
“There were businesses scattered all over West Southern Pines in the 1950s and 1960s,” Walden said. “But then the business owners started passing on, and the businesses fell by the wayside. By the late 1980s, most of the businesses were gone.
“We’d like to get some commercial back here so people won’t have to travel for small items that they need.”
Rebuilding the business community is just one of numerous issues that will be considered when a regulating plan for West Southern Pines is developed as part of the upcoming Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) revision process.
Walden said a number of property owners, especially along Pennsylvania Avenue and Gaines Street, have approached him about securing the required zoning changes to allow commercial growth.
“There are other streets, too,” he said. “It’s one of the main issues in West Southern Pines.”
Other important issues include affordable housing.
“We’re trying to improve the quality of housing to stop the deterioration due to absentee owners,” Walden said. “We’re trying to put more properties on the market. Quite a few residents of West Southern Pines work in the service industry, which typically doesn’t pay as well, so we need to try and keep affordable housing for as many people as possible.”
Dorothy “Dot” Brower, a West Southern Pines resident and community activist, says she is hoping for an open-minded discussion on all fronts.
“Anytime you enter into a new process you need to be willing to stretch,” Brower said. “I am interested in seeing some positive changes in economic development, residential development and other possibilities that will help West Southern Pines thrive again.
“We need to provide our young people a similar feel and sense of community that we had growing up.”
Brower added that she hopes the younger generation will be “well represented” during the process.
“We shouldn’t make decisions in isolation,” she said. “We need to take ownership and groom young people to take our place. We are interested in revitalizing our community.
“We’re not asking others to do it for us, but we realize that we will need some help.”
Town Manager Reagan Parson said including a West Southern Pines plan in the UDO revision process stems from development in 2010 of the town’s Comprehensive Long-Range Plan (CLRP)
“West Southern Pines came up as a specific topic quite a bit during the CLRP process,” Parsons said. “I think there is a long-term interest in West Southern Pines in trying to maintain the historic nature of that neighborhood while also working to facilitate redevelopment and revitalization.”
The UDO, which will be overhauled for the first time since its inception in 1989, controls all design and land-use regulations for the town. The revision will streamline and update the existing code in addition to ensuring its compliance with, and ability to implement the goals of, the CLRP.
The town has created a stakeholder steering committee and hired Planning Works, a Kansas-based consulting company, to facilitate the yearlong process. Planning Works was awarded the $149,180 contract in October after a five-member committee that included Parsons reviewed proposals from five firms.
Bruce Peshoff, a partner at Planning Works, said his firm will incorporate regulating plans for West Southern Pines and downtown Southern Pines into the revised UDO.
“We don’t have a cookie-cutter approach that both neighborhoods will go through,” Peshoff said. “We’ll be engaging both and trying to determine the needs in each. We know there are going to be different issues between the two.”
Michael Lauer, another partner at Planning Works, will be the point person for the regulating plans.
“He will be there from start to finish so people will know exactly who to talk to when there are questions or issues,” Peshoff said.
Planning Works will hold 10 sets of meetings and conduct four three-day forums because town officials want the UDO revision process to be inclusive and transparent as well as challenging and rewarding. The first forum was originally set to begin last month but was rescheduled for Tuesday-Thursday, Jan. 17-19.
The agenda for the first forum calls for “West Southern Pines area” meetings at 1 p.m. on Jan. 17 and Jan. 18 in the community room at the Southern Pines Police Department. The “downtown area” meetings will be conducted at 3 p.m. on those dates in the same room.
Peshoff has said the forums “will be a very intensive three days,” with concurrent sessions in the morning and afternoon.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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