Aberdeen leaders hope to have a new development ordinance with stricter standards in place by the end of the year.
Planning Director Justin Westbrook told the Town Board during its work session Monday night that rewrite is “in full swing.” He said the work is being done in five stages.
The final draft should be in the hands of the town Planning Board in the fall, with final adoption by the town commissioners in late November.
The update comes as Aberdeen is beginning to feel more development pressure.
“We’ve got development coming,” Westbrook told the commissioners. “We need to strike while the iron is hot … before the horse is too far out of the barn. That is why we have such an aggressive timeline.”
Westbrook said the planning department has discussions with various developers from time to time about possible projects. He said they are aware of another large planned unit development (PUD) similar to the proposed Blake Village, off N.C. 5 on the border with Pinehurst, though he did not provide any other details.
He said Legacy Lakes is also planning to move ahead with another phase of its development.
Westbrook said when he has conversations with developers, he makes them aware that the town is working on increasing its standards while also trying to improve the permitting process.
“It will be simpler to get a permit but the standards will be stricter,” he said.
Mayor Robbie Farrell agreed on the urgency for getting new standards in place. He recalled that when the city of Fayetteville began working on tightening its standards, “developers screamed bloody murder” and threatened to take their business to Moore and Harnett counties.
He said Aberdeen is overdue for an overhaul of its standards.
“We are playing catch up,” he said. “When we get this adopted, it will make a difference. When you come to Aberdeen, you will do it right.”
Westbrook said the Planning Board will be reviewing each of the stages and that the planning staff will also be seeking input from other boards such as the Historic Preservation Commission and Downtown Aberdeen Board, and Appearance and Beautification Committee.
He said he is also planning to open houses in July and later this fall closer to the final draft being completed to seek public input.
Town Manager Paul Sabiston said town commissioners can also offer input along the way and review the various stages as they are being considered by the Planning Board. He said that would allow them to be more familiar with the document before it comes to them officially in October or November “and not be hit you with 600 pages all at once.”
“You will have some time to digest it,” he said. “I think this is a good process.”
Related to development, the board briefly discussed the upcoming June 24 public hearing on the proposed $70 million Blake Village mixed-use development that would front on the east side of N.C. 5 in Aberdeen.
If approved, Pinehurst-based Riley & Walker Homes’ proposed development would be the first traditional neighborhood/commercial mixed use property to be constructed in Moore County.
It is also the first project to seek rezoning as a PUD since Aberdeen formally adopted a new Comprehensive Land Development Plan earlier this year.
The developer will host a community meeting from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday at 5 American Legion Lane in Pinehurst for those who wish to learn more about the proposed development.
Plans call for up to 120,000 square feet of office and retail space, a mix of 370 residential units and nearly nine acres of parks and recreational areas available for public use on the 119-acre tract on N.C. 5 near Linden Road.
Westbrook noted that an initial plan was approved by town Planning Board for a similar PUD request for the same tract of land in May 2018. But an unexpected problem arose during third-party negotiations regarding the proposed access point near Linden Road.
The first application was scrapped, and Riley & Walker Homes submitted the new proposal earlier this spring.
This time around, the advisory Planning Board rejected the proposed plan in April.
Most of the concerns raised during the Planning Board meeting related to proposed density on the site, traffic impacts on N.C. 5 and the width of setbacks on the rear of the property where it abuts to the CCNC community.
Town Commissioner Ken Byrd questioned if any changes have been made to the plan since the planning board meeting and what amount of change would “trigger” having to send it back to that board for another review.
“That is an open question,” Sabiston replied. “It’s a tough call, especially on these large developments.
Westbrook said he was not aware of any substantial changes to the plan.
Sabiston said it would have to fairly substantial such as altering mix of commercial and residential.
“They are entitled to their day before the appropriate boards,” Sabiston said.
The Town Board meeting June 24 will begin at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.