Village Wrestles with Lake Condo Proposal
Residents living near Lake Pinehurst are mounting a protest against the proposed construction of three condominiums that would be built on vacant property near the lake and the marina.
On March 12, the Village Council will likely consider two text amendments to the village ordinances and a conditional rezoning that would allow the property's owners to build the condominiums.
About 60 people earlier this week attended a Village Council meeting and voiced their opinions during a long public hearing. The rezoning would allow for multifamily development on the lot that is currently vacant and zoned residential.
John and Linda Mercer, of Houston, own the lot. Jess Dishner read a letter from the Mercers that said they had "always intended to build on the lot and spend their retirement years in Pinehurst," and they hoped that they could "maintain the beauty of the lakefront" and that it would still "be their dream retirement home."
Dale Skinner is president of the Lake Pinehurst Villas Homeowners association. The villas are adjacent to the Mercers' property. Skinner said his members have two primary concerns. First, the new construction of townhomes would obstruct current residents' view of the marina. Second, by building on the vacant lot and putting a home so close to the water, it would hamper work crews, should repairs to the sewer line or other utilities have to be made.
Tom Reedy, president of the Lake Pinehurst Association, said he had more than 80 supporting emails asking the council not to rezone the property because it is "not our vision of Lake Pinehurst."
"Putting townhomes on that property would be like putting a tattoo parlor in the Razooks Building (Magnolia Place)," Reedy said.
Other residents voiced concerns about traffic safety. Some even challenged the rezoning as "spot zoning," which benefits a single parcel of land with a zone different from the surrounding properties.
Village Planning Director Andrea Correll told the council the parcel abuts condominiums on the lake which are currently zoned multifamily and therefore is not spot zoning.
"I do not put us in jeopardy legally," Correll said.
There is no site plan for the townhomes, which are planned to be 1,800 square feet each and would be connected to Burning Tree Road via a single driveway.
The nearly 30,000-square-foot lot is currently zoned residential, and the homeowner legally could build one home 30 feet from the water and not to exceed 35 feet in height, or he could subdivide the lot and build two homes, one facing the water and another facing Burning Tree Road and the existing homes there.
"This multifamily thing is trying to maximize their [financial] interest, and that is not in the interest of Pinehurst," said resident John Root.
Mayor Nancy Fiorillo reminded everyone that people "have a right to build on their property."
The planning board voted 3-2 against recommending the changes that would allow the condos. The village staff recommended approval, saying that there are six multifamily developments around the lake that don't meet the current 60-feet setback requirement for multifamily development that is in the current ordinance. And if any of those buildings were to be destroyed, they couldn't be rebuilt because of the requirements in the village ordinances.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tembrey@ thepilot.com.
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