Whispering Pines Approves Subdivision, Passes Budget
By John Lentz
Despite a petition signed by a majority of Whispering Winds homeowners opposing development adjacent to their neighborhood, the Whispering Pines Village Council voted 4-1 Wednesday to rezone land for the creation of the Whisper Grove subdivision.
The area consists of 19.81 acres bordered by Niagara-Carthage and Airport roads. The council approved rezoning the land from a Residential and Agricultural to Residential Single Family.
Whispering Winds resident Fred Para explained his opposition to the plan.
"I live adjacent to Whisper Grove and am presenting the council a petition signed by 18 of 22 homeowners who are concerned with the appropriateness of this development," Para said. "Our basic contention is that we want to keep up the standard (in home size) and keep up a good reputation. More houses mean more noise, which would make our property look less attractive."
But council member Jerry Osborne disagreed.
"You don't always get to choose your neighbors," he said. "I was not happy at first when a house was put up on the vacant lot across the street from me last year, but now it doesn't look that bad. Often it can grow on you in time."
Para said he felt he had to "speak up now" before the council progressed any further.
"It's kind of like voting," he said. "If you don't vote, you can't complain. I felt that if I didn't say something now, later I would think I should've spoken up."
In other business, the council unanimously approved the 2012-2013 budget totaling $2,979,050.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Pro Tem Randy Saunders explained one budget item in detail to the more than 35 village residents in attendance.
"It is very clearly stated that the $209,000 in additional taxes will be reserved for capital expenditures such as major repairs and things like that," he said. "There is also no tax increase, and we won't spend more than we take in."
The council tabled action on approving the Recreation and Open Space Master Plan until the July meeting. The council discussed the plan following a presentation by Brian Starkey, of OBS Landscape Architects of Raleigh, and Kimberly Siran, of Coley Design. A greenway, walking trails, a playground, bike paths and other options for outdoor activities are part of the initiative.
Councilman Paul Sams reflected on a recent visit to the North Carolina mountains when stating his approval for the project.
"I spent last weekend at Mount Mitchell, which is one of the prettiest places in the world," he said. "I walked on some of the trails, and it was wonderful. We need things like this here, and I think we can do this within our budget."
Osborne spoke against approval of the plan.
"I think the council is considering a plan that may not be possible to develop," he said. "We're a small village taking on a big project, and I don't think we can afford it."
But councilman Ed Blackwell said the master plan was "a road map to where we're going."
"We've already budgeted $15,000 to do this, and I believe their recommendations are very doable within this budget," Blackwell said. "The consultants gave us options, and this is a plan we can execute."
Saunders agreed, saying that everyone needed to think "outside of the half-acre lot."
"With the greenway, we can have a very nice walking trail, and it costs nothing," he said, "and we can apply for grants to work with a developer down the road."
The council meets again on July 11 at 6 p.m.
Contact John Lentz at (910) 693-2479 or jlentz@thepilot. com.
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