August 27, 2010
Several years ago, when the Southern Pines Town Council learned the general details of the Pine Needles Village proposal, some people claimed there was some kind of conspiracy to keep the project quiet and “sneak it through.” This is despite the fact that all the information on the project discussed at a public meeting was splashed across the front page of the next edition of the Pilot.
Some people see conspiracies at every turn. I think, perhaps, they assume anyone disagreeing with them must have some ulterior motives. Whatever. I’m not a psychologist.
I am writing this blog entry in an attempt to avoid some of the cries of “conspiracy” and information suppression this time around. Something is brewing in regards to the property on which Pine Needles Village was proposed to go. It has already gone through one Planning Board hearing and as I understand it there were very few people in attendance.
Sponsored by Hobbes, Upchurch & Associates, amendment OA-04-10 is currently before the Town. Essentially, it is a series of text amendments to our code that would allow for a wider range of mixed uses on certain properties in town zoned PD (Planned Development). I believe the amendment, as it stands now, would only affect the Pine Needles property.
I do have some concerns with the amendment as written, but I will not go into them now. For one, there will probably be some changes before the Planning Board is done with it.
I have no idea what the property owners may want to do this time around, but for better or worse the proposed amendment will allow something much different on the property than what is currently allowed. This could include something very much like the Pine Needles Village proposal we previously deliberated. For the record I voted in favor of that proposal and also stated in a public forum as recently as last year that I would likely vote the same way again.
Again, I am not writing this blog to make any kind of judgment. I just want to make sure people know that there is business before the town than seems to pertain specifically to the development of this important parcel. Development on this property was a REALLY BIG DEAL to a lot of people last time around. Since then, we have gone through a very public process to develop the Town’s Comprehensive Long Range Plan. This process concluded that the people of Southern Pines would like the property to develop as “Traditional Mixed Use” ( See the plan for more information on that designation).
I am sure my effort to try to avoid some of the nightmare this town went through last time will be seen by some as an effort to raise some kind of alarm to get people stirred up. I believe that if people want to get stirred up over this issue they will do so without any “help” help from me. I do think a civil discussion, should we choose to have one, should come as early in the process as possible.
Since the Pilot has not published a story on this proposed amendment, many people do not know it exists or what it means. Perhaps they are gun-shy based on how things concerning this property went last time. Whatever the reason, I do not feel anyone will be well served if it comes as a surprise to most people and at the last minute.
Speak now or forever hold your peace. The next Planning Board meeting is September 23rd at 7:00 at the Douglass Community Center. A copy of the proposed amendment, OA-04-10, is available for viewing at the Planning and Inspections office, next to the Post Office.