Most folks driving along U.S. 15-501 don’t notice when they cross municipal lines, passing easily from Pinehurst to Southern Pines and Aberdeen while traveling southbound on the four-mile stretch between the Traffic Circle and U.S. 1.
But town leaders are scrutinizing this area carefully to see if they can reach consensus on a shared set of minimum design standards that would be applied to any new development.
Last year a collaborative work group began meeting on a bi-monthly basis, in partnership with the Triangle J Council of Governments, to discuss “big picture” topics of mutual interest.
Concerns about growth, particularly across southern Moore County, are a key reason the group was established. As development pressures have ratcheted up, so has the need to encourage more orderly development and efficient delivery of municipal services.
A primary goal of the work group is to achieve a smooth transition between areas of development within each jurisdiction with appropriate entryways into each community.
Five travel corridors have been identified as significant links between the three communities: N.C. 2, N.C. 5, U.S. 15-501, U.S. 1 and Airport Road.
“We started with U.S. 15-501 because of the identified roads, it is the only one with impacts on all three communities,” said Triangle J planner Jenny Halsey, during the group’s Tuesday meeting at Aberdeen Fire Station 1. “We are looking for some agreed-upon minimum standards for setbacks, buffers and landscape plantings, exterior lighting.”
Pinehurst Village Manager Jeff Sanborn said he views the group’s role to determine where the differences are between each of the towns’ development ordinances, then let each respective council decide how far they want to go to close that gap.
Southern Pines Assistant Town Manager Chris Kennedy agreed.
“I wouldn’t want to say we all will do the same thing. I think it would be a hard sell to my council that we want to do the exact same as our neighboring community,” he said. “The first step is to determine a minimum. If someone wants to exceed that standard, that is fine.”
Southern Pines Councilwoman Carol Haney said it was important for the towns to retain their individuality.
“There is diversity within our communities and there should be diversity in our plantings, for example,” she said.
Aberdeen Town Manager Paul Sabiston noted his staff is currently engaged in a rewrite of Aberdeen’s development ordinances, “So this is a great time to do this for us. We just have to figure out what the magic number is going to be.”
Any revised set of standards adopted would be automatically applied to new development along the identified corridors, and Kennedy recommended the standards should apply to major renovations as well.
“There should be a trigger point where we would say the new structure must come into compliance,” he said.
The Aberdeen/Pinehurst/Southern Pines group will next meet on Tuesday, May 21, at a location to be announced.