Order Issued in Village Green Appeal
The order is in the mail.
With a stroke of his pen, Pinehurst Board of Adjustment Chairman Richard Ashton made official the ruling of the board to order the village’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to reverse a prior decision and issue a certificate of appropriateness for planned improvements to the downtown parking lot and the Village Green.
The signed order says the decision by the HPC was “unlawful and must be reversed, and that the case must be remanded to the HPC with instructions that the COA be approved and issued to the village.”
The HPC now will have 30 days from the time of receipt of the order to determine if the order will be followed or appealed to the Moore County Superior Court.
Bruce Gould, senior planner with the village, said the signed letter would be mailed out Friday to HPC members and their attorney.
“Once they get it, that starts the clock,” Ashton said after he signed and dated the order.
The signed order indicates that the HPC’s decision is erroneous and unlawful for the following reasons:
- The HPC applied an erroneous standard and geographical area in ruling on whether the COA was “incongruous with the special character” of the Historic Preservation Overlay District under N.C. general statutes.
- The denial of the certificate of appropriateness (COA) was not based on substantial competent evidence in view of the entire record.
- The HPC’s findings of fact were not based on substantial competent evidence in view of the entire record.
- The HPC’s findings of fact did not support the HPC’s conclusion of law that the COA should be denied.
- The HPC’s decision was inconsistent with applicable procedures specified by statute or ordinance.
- The HPC’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.
When board members asked what might happen next, Gould declined to speculate.
“This is not something anybody has ever dealt with, or certainly not anything we have dealt with,” Gould said.
The next meeting of the commission is set for 4 p.m. Nov. 15, although a special meeting could be called to deal with the matter.
The commission met on Oct. 26 but didn’t discuss the board’s decision because it had not received the order yet.
The proposed improvement project has been in limbo since June 29 when the commission voted 4-2 against issuing a COA for the proposed project, saying it had concerns over its size and scale, and the removal of trees.
The Village Council appealed that ruling, and earlier this month the Board of Adjustment ruled in favor of the village, ordering the commission to approve it.
The Board of Adjustment heard the matter Oct. 4. During the appeal hearing, attorneys for the village argued that the commission used the wrong standard to make its decision, saying that the commissioners said the proposal was incongruent with the “core village” and not the entire Historic District.
Attorneys for the commission argued that the changes to the parking lot encroached on the Village Green.
Village Council members have said they want to complete the planned improvements in downtown in advance of June 2014, when Pinehurst hosts the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open in back-to-back weeks.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tembrey @thepilot.com.
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