Carolina proposed

Rendering of the conceptual plan for The Carolina subdivision, courtesy of Koontz Jones Design

There are 31 items on the “wish list” that residents of The Carolina subdivision would like to see addressed in the modified rezoning proposal the Southern Pines Town Council is set to consider on Tuesday.

Topping the list of neighborhood concerns are density and maintaining a single family neighborhood.

Town leaders granted developer Caropine Ventures a 30-day grace period last month to allow additional discussion with property owners, but it is not entirely clear how much consensus has been reached.

During the council’s agenda meeting on Wednesday, Town Manager Reagan Parsons said the developer’s agent, Bob Koontz of Koontz Jones Design, had met with residents but town staff had not received or reviewed any specifics.

“It does appear it (the rezoning application) will be amended based on conversations we’ve had,” he said.

Parsons said some of the 31 items were related to homeowner association regulations — outside the town’s purview — while others apply to the rezoning request.

“The amount of review necessary will depend on how much changes in the application,” he said.

Southern Pines Mayor David McNeill expressed frustration that the modified application was not ready.

“Last month, Bob Koontz stood before Council and requested an extension because the developer was close to getting things resolved. I was highly encouraged to hear that,” McNeill said. “I am disappointed to be here, four days before our next meeting, and staff does not have anything.”

Councilwoman Carol Haney agreed, “This is too big of a project to make a snap decision.”

Two residents present at the agenda meeting, Jeff Donovan and Kathryn Chow, said they and other landowners met with Koontz earlier that day. 

“The two issues that came to the front were low density and single family residences (only). The compromise they showed us does not address that,” Donovan said.

Donovan also said the list of 31 items from the residents was given to Koontz  on Sept. 10, but the developer, Perry Shelley with Caropine, had not responded until Oct. 3, leaving little time for negotiation.

“They have been very nice and make it sound like (they’re) listening to us, taking in our concerns. But in meetings later when they show conceptual design, it is like it falls on deaf ears: nothing has changed,” said Chow. “Time and time again they come back with the same density, which I don’t think is acceptable for any of us.”

Located off Airport Road across from the Moore County Airport, The Carolina was permitted by Southern Pines in 1999 as a master-planned community for up to 495 homes and 96 assisted living units. The existing approved density was tied to the base zoning of 2.1 units per acre.

The development was purchased from bankruptcy proceedings by Caropine, in 2013, and the golf course followed in 2017.

The rezoning request as presented initially, on Aug. 14, would add up to 134 residential units — for a total of up to 600 homes — using some of the community’s closed golf course land. Plans call for a variety of home styles, including single family, townhouses, and multi-family apartments. Approximately 20 percent of the tract would be left as open space, exceeding the town’s minimum requirement. A 68-acre section of the original subdivision where 102 existing lots have been platted is not included in the request.

The developers have indicated they would like flexibility with the remainder of the former course, potentially re-using some of the land as a six-hole or nine-hole course depending on market interest, or for other open space and family-friendly community amenities.

During the initial public hearing in August, a number of residents opposed the increased density, potential clear cutting of trees, and traffic impacts more housing could create.

A traffic impact analysis has been completed by the developer and will be considered in-depth at the next step of the approval process, if the project is approved. The study recommends adding a second access point on Airport Road, dedicated turn lanes on Airport Road into the development, and potentially expanding the airport roundabout intersection with “slip lanes” to alleviate congestion.

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