Pinehurst Medical has pulled its application to rezone land at the corner of McCaskill Road and Rattlesnake Trail for a two-story specialty clinic.
“We appreciate the village’s consideration of the application and the time spent by the village staff, the Planning and Zoning Board and Village Council, however, my client is no longer interested in pursuing rezoning of the property,” Bob Koontz with Koontz Jones Design, wrote in a letter dated Monday to Village Manager Jeff Sanborn.
The letter gave no reason for the decision. A message left with Pinehurst Medical Group CEO Brandon Enfinger just after noon Tuesday was not immediately returned.
Despite a recommendation from the village’s advisory Planning and Zoning Board, the proposal ran into opposition at the council’s public hearing Nov. 13.
Rezoning opponents argued that the site was not an appropriate location for a large medical office building, which would sit opposite of the Greens at Arboretum apartments. The council’s approval of the rezoning and site plan two years that allowed the 72-unit apartment complex stirred animosity among a number of residents, especially those who live around the affected area.
Pinehurst Medical had proposed building a 32,400-square-foot, two-story facility called the Greens at Pinehurst at the corner of McCaskill Road and Rattlesnake Trail. It would have housed its dermatology, endocrinology and rheumatology practices.
But before the project could proceed, the village had to rezone the land since medical offices are not among the uses allowed under the current Village Mixed-Use zoning district. Pinehurst Medical was asking the village to change the zoning to Neighborhood Commercial-Conditional District, which allows medical offices.
After nearly three hours of public comment and discussion, the council voted to delay action until its Dec. 11 meeting to have more time to consider all of the issues and concerns.
The 2.84-acre site is the second phase of a site plan the Village Council approved when it rezoned the entire tract in 2016. The second phase called for up to a 35,000-square-foot building that would have a mix of retail and office.
All but one of the 11 residents who spoke during the public hearing last Tuesday opposed the rezoning. They expressed concerns about increased traffic and that this office would be more of a regional facility that is not intended to serve the surrounding area. They argued that it should be located closer to the hospital campus and urged the village to work with Pinehurst Medical to find a more suitable location.
Pinehurst resident Pat Corso, who is executive director of Partners in Progress, was the only speaker in favor of the request.
Koontz pointed out during the hearing that if the zoning is not changed and the site is developed as approved two years ago, there could be a larger building with uses that would generate even more traffic than a medical office.
He added that at the time the council voted to rezone the entire 6.4-acre site in June 2016, it thought that medical offices were allowed. The definition of “professional offices” include health care providers, but because of a possible oversight in the development ordinance, it is not included among the table of uses.
So developers opted to ask that the site be rezoned to Neighborhood Commercial, and limit the use to medical offices.
Council members appeared divided, with John Bouldry and Judy Davis expressing reservations about changing the zoning and questioning whether that was the best use for the property.
Bouldry said he felt the proposed medical building “is out of character for the area.”
“I am all for medical facilities coming into Pinehurst, but not in this location,” he said.
Davis said rezoning the property two years after the earlier rezoning would put the council on a “slippery slope” and cause residents to lose confidence in the board’s land-use decisions. She said the property owner should adhere to what the current zoning allows.
Council member Kevin Drum said he was “truly conflicted” about what to do, understanding that a large two-story building could go there now under the present zoning and the site plan approved in 2016. He said this “could be the best opportunity for this site.”
Fiorillo said she thought what Pinehurst Medical proposed was “an attractive building” and that she did not see “anything wrong with it.”
She said the zoning already allows up to a 35,000-square-foot building with offices and retail.
Fiorillo said Tuesday afternoon that she was disappointed that the proposal was withdrawn.
“I think this is a lost opportunity for Pinehurst,” she said. “I would hope other companies would still consider this particular location in the future. This is a prime location for commercial use.”
The site borders an area referred to as Village Place, a somewhat unsightly area on the outskirts of the quaint downtown that council has long hoped to see transformed as a destination.
Former council member John Strickland, who opposes the rezoning, said during the public hearing last week that if someone wants to construct a building with retail and offices there, as currently allowed by the zoning, “bring it on.” He added that no one is saying the council should stop growth.
“If proposals match the zoning, they will be approved,” he said.