TEASER Pinehurst, Village Hall

(File Photo/The Pilot)

The Pinehurst Village Council agreed Monday afternoon on 20 top priorities from among 115 recommendations proposed for inclusion in a new comprehensive long-range plan.

Most of those chosen align with what residents have said are most important through numerous public input opportunities, the most recent at a two-day open house when the draft plan was unveiled. Residents were given the opportunity to vote for what they felt was most important.

Rising to the top: traffic congestion, the quality of new development, stormwater management, increasing the number of shops and restaurants in the village center, preserving trees and protecting historic properties.

The draft plan contained 143 recommendations, or strategies. During three previous work sessions, the council consolidated or modified some of the original recommendations, eliminated some and added 31.

Prior to their work session Monday afternoon, council members were asked to prioritize the various recommendations based on whether they felt it would have a “significant impact” on the quality of life for residents. They were then to recommend timeframes for implementation: one to two years, three to five years, beyond five years and “on-going.”

In addition to those ranked most important, the council categorized 22 as “very important” and 73 as “important.” Two were deleted.

Assistant Village Manager Natalie Hawkins reviewed 52 recommendations in which there was no clear consensus among council members for significance. Over the next two hours, council members worked to reach agreement on most of them.

Hawkins said it was important for the council to reach a consensus and “hone in” on the top priorities before the village turns everything over to its consultants to complete a final draft of the plan, which is to be submitted by Aug. 30.

Council member Jack Farrell acknowledged the challenge before the board: “I assume everything the village does is important.”

Top Priorities

Farrell said decisions on implementing some of the recommendations will likely have to be made by future councils.

Hawkins said some of the priorities and timeframes could be changed each year as the council reviews its various plans and budget priorities.

Among the issues council members deemed most important:

* Continue to work with NCDOT to come up with solutions to improve traffic flows into and around the Traffic Circle while protecting the character of the village;

* Explore ways to enhance the overall quality of new housing in the village;

* Include likely impacts of significant development proposals in planning staff reports to help with land-use decisions;

* Prepare a comprehensive stormwater master plan;

* Evaluate creating a local stormwater utility for planning, programming, and coordinating future stormwater infrastructure in the community;

* Implement rules for post-construction stormwater maintenance requirements;

* Coordinate with Moore County Public Utilities to ensure adequate water and sewer infrastructure capacity exists to meet growth;

* Assess whether the community supports a village-funded library, and if so, explore options for locations and funding sources;

* Continue to promote first-floor retail and destination uses on the street level, with office and residential uses on upper levels;

* Continue to maintain the local Pinehurst Historic District;

* Evaluate the need for an additional police station or substation;

* Cooperate with the Moore County Transportation Committee to implement the Comprehensive Transportation Plan. Ensure that the plan aligns with the goals of the village, and make recommendations to amend the plan as needed to ensure Moore County transportation projects have the desired outcome on both character and transportation quality and efficiency;

* Continue to promote the character and quality of life of Pinehurst;

* Continue to reinforce the village’s branding and marketing strategy;

* Create and implement a master plan to develop West Pinehurst Park to include additional athletic fields;

* Continue to protect water features, including lakes, ponds, streams, wetlands and floodplains with appropriate development regulation;

* Use the CommunityViz software to quantify the impact of development on impervious surface limits and community water needs; and

* Continue to support the efforts of the Tri-Cities work group to create and enforce standards for critical corridors into the Village.

Also Making the Cut

Among the recommendations rated as “very” important:

* Investigate ways to require covenants and architectural review committees for new subdivisions/housing developments to help improve housing design;

* Create "How To" information guides that describe how property owners can create property owners associations in existing neighborhoods to create and enforce architectural standards;

* Prepare a village-wide, neighborhood-specific sidewalk and street lighting plan with neighborhood input;

* Promote private preservation efforts in the historic village center and support the Historic Preservation Commission;

* Enhance the Tree Preservation Program and standards for tree planting and preservation in the Pinehurst Development Ordinance;

* Coordinate with Moore County to identify opportunities to amend its current water and wastewater extension policy and procedures manual to require voluntary annexation petitions if/when the utility extends water and sewer service in the Village’s extraterritorial jurisdiction;

* Consider projecting long-term infrastructure capital needs by category beyond five years;

* Explore opportunities for and develop bicycle, pedestrian and golf cart crossings to increase connectivity and safety;

* Expand efforts to utilize shuttle services for village events;

* Explore ways to create a commercial spine connecting Village Place and the village center;

* Continue to promote the village’s core retail businesses;

* Seek ways to enhance strategic partnerships with other public and private entities to expand and enhance recreation facilities and programs offered;

* Update the Village's wellhead protection plan;

* Reduce or eliminate the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers on village-owned property, and encourage the same on private properties; and

* Seek additional ways to encourage recycling and reuse of resources.

‘Boiling the Ocean’

Not among those top 42 was one that says the village should “take necessary steps to protect the Western Connector Corridor so that development is not approved in the proposed location.”

The council again debated whether the project, a bypass around Pinehurst, should be included in the plan, given that it could be 20 years before it is ever built.

Village Manager Jeff Sanborn pointed out that well before then, the village would need to make sure development is not approved in the potential path.

Council members agreed to leave the project in the plan and ranked it as “important.”

After going through the now 115 recommendations, council member Judy Davis questioned whether it was still too much, equating it to “boiling the ocean.” She said not everything is important.

“We still need to distill it,” she said. “Where do we want to hang out hats? What is the thrust for the future.”

She said she felt like the council could still do “some pruning” of recommendations.

Mayor Pro Tem John Bouldy said he wanted to see how the council’s priority rankings match up with the public from the open house last month.

“We have had a lot of public input,” Bouldry said.

Council member Kevin Drum added, “We’ve listened to the public.”

Hawkins said that the executive summary, which has not yet been written, would cover those major issues that residents and council members have said are important.

Drum cautioned that this is still a work in progress and is concerned some residents are already passing “judgment” on it.

“We are in a draft stage,” he said.

Council members were not in full agreement on implementation timeframes for the recommendations in their individual ranking. They asked village staff to go back through them and come back at another meeting next week with proposed timelines.

The council will discuss the issue again Monday in between interviews with consulting firms that have offered to conduct a library needs assessment.

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