TEASER Pinehurst, Village Hall

(File Photo/The Pilot)

The Pinehurst Planning and Zoning Board voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to recommend denial of a request to rezone land off Blake Boulevard near N.C. 5 for 160 homes.

Board members cited concerns about the potential increase in traffic on they already busy highway as well as the fact that this area is more appropriate for commercial and other nonresidential development.

Before voting to recommend that the Village Council deny the rezoning for Pinehurst South Cottages, the board unanimously concluded that it is not consistent with the current comprehensive long-range plan adopted in 2010.

They also pointed to the fact that under a proposed new comprehensive plan being considered by the council, this area has been designated as a possible “innovation hub” for different types of offices.

The developer, The Cottages at Legacy Lakes, is asking the village to rezone 41 acres behind Pinehurst South to residential-multi-family. It would have two driveways on Blake Boulevard, which runs from N.C. 5 to Monticello Drive.

Most of the land, 28 acres, is currently zoning Neighborhood Commercial. About 13 acres of it is zoned for high-density residential, which would allow up to 50 homes.

Representatives of the developer attempted to make a case that the project could be a “catalyst” for the re-development of Pinehurst South and that it would generate possibly six times less traffic than what the current zoning allows.

Board member Cyndie Burnett said she liked the development plan, calling it a “nice neighborhood.”

“I just don’t think this is the best place for it,” she said, echoing sentiments expressed by other board members.

Burnett said it would better serve Pinehurst to have some type of commercial development there rather than “competing” with several large subdivisions recently approved by Aberdeen on N.C. 5. She said type of development could serve residents living in the Monticello Drive area, and possibly keep some of them from having to get on N.C. 5.

Board member Joel Shriberg expressed similar concerns about adding to the traffic problems on N.C. 5.

“I think it is a fabulous project,” he said. “There is a need for it. It’s just an awful lot of traffic entering on N.C. 5.”

Burnett added that there “will be changes on N.C 5” as a result of projects recently approved by Aberdeen, including the nearby Blake Village that will have 300 homes and most recently another subdivision with 500 houses farther south near the new elementary school under construction.

“I’d like to see how it all pans out,” she said of any future improvements to N.C. 5.

Board member Sonja Rothstein said she would be hesitant to change the zoning given that this area has been designated for non-residential development under the current comprehensive long-range plan, as well a new one being considered by the council.

“I’m concerned we’re jumping the gun with this project,” Rothstein said.

Board member David Kelley said he did not hear a compelling reason to deviate from the current land-use plan for the village and change the zoning.

“I think there are other options for this property,” he said.

Two residents spoke against the project during the public hearing, both citing concerns about more traffic on N.C. 5.

Bob Coates said there has been “a lot of wringing of hands” in Pinehurst over recent developments Aberdeen has approved on N.C. 5.

“Pinehurst now has the opportunity to do something to stem the tide of unbridled development,” Coates said.

Coates added that traffic coming in and out of the development would “overwhelm” Blake Boulevard and Monticello Drive, in addition to N.C. 5

“It will just make an already bad situation even worse,” he said

He urged the village to stick with the existing zoning, which he said was “well-thought out in the past and is there for a reason.”

Bob Bramwell agreed with Coates about not changing the zoning now, especially given the focus for that area under the new comprehensive plan as a commercial area.

“It is anticipated to be an even more important commercial area,” he said. “I think Pinehurst rightly needs to concentrate on supporting businesses.”

Bramwell added that traffic is “a mess” now and that future widening of N.C. 5 from U.S. 1 to village border “will just draw more development pressure.” He said it is up to Pinehurst to “defend” its interest.

Bramwell said the builder for the project, Marcel Goneau, does “fine housing design.”

“This is just the wrong place to put it,” he said.

Tim Carpenter with LKC Engineering and other representatives of developer, presented information showing that their proposed project would generate an additional 1,600 trips a day, compared with up to 9,000 a day under the highest use of the present zoning.

Neighborhood commercial allows a wide variety of uses, such as general retail, restaurants, bars, theaters and day care centers.

“We feel like we are lessening the traffic load on N.C. 5,” he said.

He explained that while the homes will be individually owned, the project will have what are called zero lot lines, which is permitted only under the residential-multi-family zoning district.

Carpenter said there is a need for this type of housing product, in which the yards and other common space will be maintained by the homeowners’ association, appealing to young professionals, empty-nesters, those looking to downsize and retirees.

He said providing a variety of housing options for different population sectors is one of the goals of the current comprehensive plan as well as the new one.

Carpenter noted that the new comprehensive plan addresses the re-development of Pinehurst South as an “innovation hub.” He said one thing missing that could help is a residential component close by, even in walking distance.

“Quite honestly the re-development of Pinehurst South is a pretty tall order,” Carpenter said. “That’s not something that is going to most likely happen in one project.”

Carpenter said having a residential component could draw new businesses, such as a neighborhood market or deli, which could serve residents in the surrounding areas, keeping them off N.C. 5.

“We have this mixed-use opportunity here, albeit we’re not in the village core, but in this pretty important business node on the south end of the village.”

Carpenter said they feel like the project “touches the buttons” on the goals in the current and new comprehensive plan.

The village planning staff also recommended denial of the rezoning request.

Planning Director Darryn Burich said he agreed with Carpenter that the current and proposed comprehensive plan call for a variety of housing options in the village but that the village has identified this area for non-residential uses, which should be given an opportunity to try before changing the zoning.

“We might be a little premature with this,” he said of the rezoning. “It looks to be a great housing product, but not in this location.”

Contact David Sinclair at (910) 693-2462 or dsinclair@thepilot.com

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