Once more, Pinehurst has done itself in with its short-sightedness, and this time it’s going to cost the village dearly.
Not quite a year ago, Pinehurst Medical went to the village and asked to build a two-story office building on a vacant lot at the corner of Rattlesnake Trail and McCaskill Road. The site, rezoned for “office” in June 2016, apparently didn’t include “medical” as office, so the request needed a rezoning.
While the village Planning Board recommended approval, the Village Council stuttered after 10 — 10! — residents spoke up at a public hearing complaining about high traffic.
The Southern Pines land planner trying to get the project through, Bob Koontz, reminded the council at the time that someone else could build on the site immediately and create a far more intensive use with more traffic.
So when the Pinehurst Village Council delayed action, Pinehurst Medical clearly decided it had seen enough. It pulled its plans.
Those plans, enlarged significantly, resurfaced last week.
Pinehurst Medical now wants to partner with Pinehurst Surgical to build a sizable medical campus — in Southern Pines. The two practices, with deep roots in Pinehurst and services across the Sandhills, want to build about 80,000 square feet total of office space for doctors across a wide range of specialties. While no price for such a project has been mentioned, the investment is likely worth tens of millions of dollars in construction and equipment.
The project at the corner of Morganton and Brucewood roads would be a major — and largely welcome — development for Southern Pines residents and town officials, who would see significant additional growth to their tax base.
“Pinehurst Surgical Clinic is proud to be one of the largest, multi-specialty, independently owned surgical groups in the country and is excited and committed to growing and expanding its services in Southern Pines and surrounding areas,” said Dr. Russell Stokes, a plastic surgeon with the clinic.
The town’s planning board has unanimously recommended approval, and the Town Council will have its review in a few weeks.
Announcement of the campus comes several months after Sandhills Pediatrics said it would build a new 22,000-square-foot building behind the existing Pavilion mixed-use building.
So it looks like Morganton and Brucewood roads will become a new Southern Pines medical hub — while Pinehurst rolls up the welcome mat.
Pinehurst never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. OK, that last bit might be harsh, but the village clearly needs to figure out how it can sustain itself going forward. Every town needs to grow its tax base with commercial and business uses.
Offices and stores carry outsized tax burdens relative to their demand for service, while the reverse is true for single-family houses. We certainly hope that as Pinehurst moves forward with its new comprehensive land-use plan, it takes seriously the idea that it simply has to find ways to accommodate these uses. It’s not healthy for the village’s future tax base that it be the place where people live and that offices and stores are for “other communities.”
When the village basically drove away Pinehurst Medical with its indecision, it lost an investment worth tens of millions of dollars. That’s the value it’s taxed on for its other properties already in Pinehurst.
And Pinehurst Surgical? Its clinic property across from the hospital is worth more than $28.7 million on the newest tax roll. A new or expanded location in Pinehurst sure would have been a nice pop for the village.
Instead, it looks like that tax base growth and revenue will accrue to Southern Pines’ benefit. Good for Southern Pines.
The lesson here is that you need not say “yes” to every development opportunity that comes along. But you better recognize value when it comes along. Or it’ll go somewhere else.