More than a year in the making, the village of Pinehurst is entering the homestretch in completing a new comprehensive long-range plan that will provide a roadmap for the next 20 to 30 years.
The comprehensive land use plan is intended to help the village in balancing continued growth pressures — which its consultants believe will only intensify in the years to come — with a strong desire by residents to maintain the character and special feel of Pinehurst.
Traffic, the quality of new development, stormwater runoff, preserving trees, and increasing the variety of shops and businesses in the downtown have risen to the top of issues residents are most concerned about. Council members and staff spent more than 13 hours over five work sessions going through the plan, making revisions to the now 115 recommendations and prioritizing them. In the final step, council members went over proposed timeframes suggested by senior staff several weeks ago.
Now the consultants are preparing the final draft, which will be presented Sept. 10 during a joint meeting of the council and its advisory Planning and Zoning Board. That meeting will occur prior to the council’s regular business session.
Assistant Village Manager Natalie Hawkins said the plan will be put on the “Envision the Village” website that same day. Residents will be able to offer comments.
So far, more than 6,800 people have participated since June 2018. The public also could review the initial 143 recommendations in the draft plan at a two-day open house earlier this summer at the Fair Barn.
Hawkins said in a memo to the council in early August that the plan “has been formulated and shaped based on the extensive public input to date,” but that there will still be more opportunities for residents to have their say.
But that has not been enough to quell concerns of some residents who feel the council has made significant revisions to the draft plan since it was unveiled at a two-day open house in June, and that they should have been able to offer input before it is put into writing.
Mayor Nancy Fiorillo disagrees with assertions there has not been enough public input.
“It has been on our website, and people have had the opportunity to review it and comment,” she said Friday morning. “It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, and charts and graphs that the final plan will have, but the meat of it is there. We have made some revisions, and there will probably be some more before we adopt it. I do think we have had a significant input, a great deal more than many other communities would have.”
Some residents have argued that it will be more difficult to remove or change some language once it is put in the final draft. They have also urged the current council to delay adoption of the plan until after the election and allow the next council to do that, since there will be three new members — Fiorillo, Mayor Pro Team John Bouldry and council member Jack Farrell are stepping down this year.
Fiorillo noted at the council’s Aug. 13 meeting that the plan can be revised right up to the time of adoption, and that any future council can make changes to it.
“At some point, we have to move ahead,” she said. “I believe we have set the bar pretty high for public input.”
Under the council’s timeline, the Planning and Zoning Board will hold its public hearing in late September and then vote on a recommendation to the council at its meeting in early October. The council is to hold a public hearing at its first meeting in October and then vote on adoption at its second meeting later that month.
Most of the council’s top properties align with what residents have indicated is most important to them.
Hawkins told the council at the outset of a work session in August that all of the 23 recommendations the council identified as top priorities had at least 80 votes are among those in the draft plan and the two-day open house in June.
Fiorillo said she looks forward to completing the process and adopting the plan. She added, “I feel good about the input we’ve had and the process we have used.”
Contact David Sinclair at (910) 693-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.