Pinehurst Rezones Former Traditions Site
A recent zoning change will impact the development of a once controversial property near the Pinehurst Arboretum.
The Pinehurst Village Council earlier this week approved changes to its Village Residential (VR) District in its development ordinances. The changes call for the maximum dwelling density to decrease to between 6 and 8 units per acre, down from 16.
There is now a minimum square footage requirement that states 50 percent of all the units shall be at least 1,800 square feet and in no case shall the minimum square footage be less than 1,400 square feet of heated floor area. The minimum amount of open space is 20 percent.
The changes affect the four-acre property on McCaskill Road across from the Arboretum that was formerly the site for the planned development known as Traditions of Old Town. The plan originally called for $1 million townhomes. Infrastructure was put in place at the site, but no buildings have been constructed, despite multiple zoning changes to the VR district.
The site is the only property in the village under the VR zoning.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Nancy Fiorillo noted the sensitive nature of the property.
“We should be cautious how we approach this development,” she said. “It is a difficult project that over the years has become contentious because of its high density.”
To increase the development to seven or eight units per acre, a developer must provide an additional 5 percent of open space for each extra unit, meaning a development with seven units must have 25 percent open space and one with eight must have 30 percent.
In April, the property was purchased by Hudson Realty Capital LLC, after it was foreclosed on by Crescent State Bank.
At the time of the transaction, Village Attorney Mike Newman said representatives from Hudson said they were still evaluating the property to determine what to do with it.
Eli Zablud, a Cary developer, said in late June that he has an option to buy the property and is considering developing the site. He has asked the council twice not to reduce the density on the property, saying it will make it difficult to develop.
His most recent appeal came Tuesday.
Council member Mark Parson said he favored seeing a design plan prior to adjusting the zoning.
“I don’t know why you wouldn’t remain open to what could be there,” he said. It’s not like we don’t have final say, so let’s see what he could come up with.”
Mike Doninger was the original developer. His first plan for the project, approved by the council in June 2008, called for 20 townhomes starting between $1 million and $1.5 million.
It was thought that the unique development could be a link between the residential Old Town and the business district known as NewCore, which is now being called Village Place.
Multiple times, Doninger came back to the council seeking density changes to the project, citing the downturn in the economy as the prime reason for the request.
In April 2010, the council denied a request that would have increased the maximum density in the Village Residential District from 5.25 units per acre to 6.75. The property is in that district.
In November 2010, the council approved changes to the village residential development standards to increase the minimum amount of open space from 35 to 50 percent and to increase the maximum dwelling density from 5.25 to 16 units per acre.
The changes were made to accommodate Doninger, who told the council at the time that the density changes were necessary to keep the project economically viable. He said then he anticipated construction starting in May or June 2011.
Doninger’s last plan called for four buildings to be built in phases. They would include two- and three-bedroom townhouses sold for $250,000 to $300,000. There would be a total of 62 units on less than four acres of land.
Council member Mark Parson cast the sole vote this past Tuesday against the change. With the new changes to the zoning district, Parson, who is an architect and a proponent of design over density, said he is concerned that the changes will hamper development, if not prevent it.
“I think we are looking at having a go-cart track in Pinehurst for a very long time,” Parson said.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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