S.P. Council to Review Major Rezoning
The Southern Pines Town Council will cap a full agenda at its monthly meeting Tuesday, with a public hearing on the Bell family's request to rezone 558 acres adjacent to Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club.
"We have quite a bit scheduled that night," Mayor David McNeill said. "We want to keep the meeting moving so we can take care of the business before us."
McNeill said the council declined to set a time limit for speakers.
"We'd like people to be concise in their comments and strive for summarizing their remarks within a five-minute time period in order to hear as many people as possible and be fair to all concerned," he said.
Council member Chris Smithson said he doesn't expect time to be an issue.
"Most people say what they're going to say within three to five minutes," Smithson said. "There are usually only a handful of people that take a significant amount of time."
The undeveloped land, known as the Knollwood Tract, is located near the intersection of U.S. 1 and N.C. 22. It is the same tract that was the center of a major confrontation five years ago when the proposed Pine Needles Village development was defeated.
Smithson, who was on the council then, said there doesn't seem to be the same level of public interest this time.
"Last time, I got hundreds of emails," he said. "This time, I haven't received any."
The Bell family submitted a conceptual plan on June 25. The plan was required as part of the family's application to rezone the land from Planned Development-Conditional District (PD-CD) to Planned Unit Development (PUD).
Kelly Miller, president and CEO of Pine Needles and Mid Pines, said the family is looking forward to working with the council.
"We'll be at the meeting, present our project, listen to the public hearing and answer any questions," Miller said. "Obviously, we think it's a good plan."
The Southern Pines Planning Board recommended approval of the rezoning last month. But the board would like the council to grant two provisions not currently required: that the board be allowed to review the Incremental Master Plan (IMP), and that an economic impact assessment be conducted.
Tony Grausso, a founder of the Broad Street Merchant Community, sent an email on Sept. 28 encouraging members of the group to attend Tuesday's meeting.
"To be sure, the Town Council has the ability and the legal ground to grant the rezoning of this property to PUD status with the condition that the developer is to fund an economic impact study, once a specific and detailed Incremental Master Plan is available," Grausso said in the email. "This meeting is the opportunity to get this done. Once the rezoning is done, that leverage is lost."
Grausso was a driving force behind a petition signed by more than 50 downtown Southern Pines merchants asking the council for the economic assessment. The group believes such a study would determine how a large retail component on the Knollwood Tract might affect their shops.
The tract is currently envisioned to include a 300- to 400-room hotel, an 18-hole golf course, up to 350,000 square feet of retail space, up to 100,000 square feet of office and commercial space, as many as 300 assisted living units, and up to 300 homes.
In addition to the golf course, recreation areas would include walking trails, horse riding trails and golf practice areas.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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