SP Council To Take Up Major Rezoning Next Month
Southern Pines Town Council member Chris Smithson sees "a Cadillac" when he looks at the conceptual master plan for a major development on land owned by the Bell family.
"But it could turn out to be a Yugo," Smithson said at the council's monthly work session last Monday.
Smithson said his main concern would be if the Bell family sells the 558 acres adjacent to Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club to a developer who comes up with a new plan.
"I'm not doubting what you say you want," Smithson told Kelly Miller, president and CEO of Pine Needles and Mid Pines. "We have to look at the worst-case scenario."
Miller said the Bell family intends to partner with a developer and start the project within three years, if the rezoning is approved.
"That is our hope," Miller said. "The incremental master plan stage is where a lot of the project details will be discussed. The council has the opportunity at that time to weigh in because they have to approve it."
Miller added that Pine Needles shares a 10,000-linear-foot border with the proposed project.
"We're very concerned with what goes in there," he said.
Miller and Bob Koontz, director of land planning for Hobbs Upchurch Associates in Southern Pines, spent about an hour answering questions submitted by council members in the wake of a lengthy public hearing earlier this month.
Smithson said in written comments submitted to the Bell family that he agreed that a project developed within the standards of their rezoning application may be consistent with the town's Comprehensive Long Range Plan (CLRP) and may promote its objectives.
"But I do not believe that the application's parameters come close to ensuring that a project will do so," he said. "My efforts, then, will largely be focused on supporting the inherent flexibility of a PUD (Planned Unit Development) zoning while at the same time working to do whatever possible to bring the application more in line with the applicant's stated vision and the vision of the town's CLRP."
Smithson and other council members asked more than a dozen questions of the Bell family, expressing concerns about parking, open space, estimated traffic counts, proposed retail building sizes, and whether a proposed assisted living facility would be exempt from paying property taxes like Penick Village and St. Joseph of the Pines.
"I think they all ought to pay taxes," Smithson said.
The council deferred a vote on the rezoning request until its next monthly meeting Nov. 13.
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.
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 PUD.
The Southern Pines Planning Board recommended approval of the rezoning last month.
Earlier this year, more than 50 downtown Southern Pines merchants signed a petition asking the council for an economic impact study because the group believes such a study would determine how a large retail component on the Knollwood Tract might affect their shops.
The Knollwood 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 Natt at (910) 693-2474 or email@example.com.
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