TEASER Southern Pines, Recreation Sign

(File photograph by Jaymie Baxley/The Pilot)

Envisioning what the future will look like along Morganton Road in Southern Pines is coming into clearer view. Development planned and underway includes medical facilities along with proposed new retail and commercial areas adjacent to already completed sites.

A mostly vacant 20-acre town-owned property at the corner of South Henley Street has been identified as a key potential opportunity to further revitalization efforts already underway in West Southern Pines. The adjacent tract where the Optimist baseball field is located has also been included in the study for potential redevelopment.

During Tuesday’s regular business meeting, town leaders reviewed and unanimously approved a list of six “guiding public interests” that were recommended by the Development Finance Initiative (DFI), as part of this UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government-sponsored program’s work with the community.

As presented, the redevelopment of the town’s Morganton Road site should:

-Serve as a distinctive entry point to the West Southern Pines neighborhood and Morganton Road area

-Allow for greater density of commercial uses along Morganton Road and, as the site nears the West Southern Pines neighborhood, transition to lower density uses that align with the residential character of the community

-Align with West Southern Pines neighborhood’s revitalization goal to increase economic and physical vitality while preserving the neighborhood’s culture and character

-Include publicly accessible recreational uses currently not available in the area

-Provide pedestrian and bike access to and around the site, and improve connectivity from West Southern Pines to Morganton Road without substantially increasing vehicle traffic

-Minimize public investment and maximize private investment

Sarah Odio, a senior project manager with DFI, said the language was written broadly but said she has more detailed notes from an input session that attracted some 70 participants in June.

“The public interests should reflect the values of the community, that is what is important to you all, and they have to be relevant to the site. We also want to encompass a range of opinions,” Odio said, also acknowledging that with any development plan, there will be trade-offs that must be evaluated.

Some of the comments from the public input session reflected the community’s concern that redevelopment of the site would increase vehicle traffic through West Southern Pines. Odio also said there was strong interest in developing at least a portion of the site for new recreational activities, noting that a skateboard park was a popular discussion point.

Mayor Carol Haney thanked Odio and those in the community who had participated in the input session for sharing their time and vision.

“This is the foundation and you need to make sure the foundation is strong,” said Haney.

In a related discussion, Odio clarified that DFI also supports the potential redevelopment of the former Southern Pines Primary school -- describing the vacated facility as “an asset and an anchor” for the entire community of Southern Pines.

In other action on Tuesday, the Southern Pines Town Council:

Recognized members of the West Southern Pines Task Force for their recent work in collaboration with DFI and the town. Initially created by former Mayor David McNeill, the group met regularly since early 2019 to discuss economic revitalization and growth issues.

Approved a voluntary annexation petition for 465 Petty Street.

Approved a conditional use permit request for a 140-foot communications tower that will be located at the Duke Energy substation on Wooster Road. Duke Energy’s district manager, David McNeill, said the structure will allow the utility company to support remote monitoring and control capabilities at its facility.

Appointed Michaela Harr to a four-year term on the town’s Historic District Commission

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