Pinehurst always somehow manages to get itself burdened with single-purpose arguments that fail to do anything to promote the collective good.
The drivers of the resistance to a project are often taking a self-serving stand that rests their case on much emotion, narrow reasoning and little factual information. Anybody remember the Pinehurst roundabout?
Today’s debate concerns an application to rezone a historic village property from commercial to residential. The property is Mystic Cottage, built by Leonard Tufts in 1899 for his Pinehurst home.
The historic building has passed through more than one rezoning process and most recently housed a furniture store. It sits on the edge of the Pinehurst commercial district, flanked by a hotel and residential properties.
The new property owner and rezoning applicant is Richard H. Moore, former North Carolina state treasurer, who was elected president and CEO of First Bancorp on June 11, 2012. Moore has engaged Wayne Haddock, of Pinehurst Homes, to restore the building for use as his personal residence. Such a proposal serves to enhance not just Old Town, but also the entire region.
Under Moore’s leadership, the publicly held bank holding company has purchased the Hobbs Upchurch building in Southern Pines and is moving its headquarters there from Troy.
A community bank, First Bank has branches in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. It is the fourth-largest bank headquartered in North Carolina, with about $3.2 billion in assets.
From this writer’s point of view, the relocation is a major win for Moore County businessmen and for citizens who are seeking personal attention of a community banking relationship. The bank participates in local charities with cash donations and brings expertise to economic development, contributing both funds and executives’ time for the benefit of this community. First Bank and its people are good citizens.
There is every reason to believe that Moore intends to contribute to village life, as does the company he operates. A well-maintained home that hosts family activities and an occasional business function adds far more value to Pinehurst than a commercial operation that may or may not succeed. Pinehurst is a community of fine homes, and the proposed project blends well with other properties.
The opposition hoopla is led by hotel owner Bonnie McPeake, who cannot be accused of being ignorant on matters of business risk. I do not know Ms. McPeake, but I cannot understand why she has seized the mantle of opposition. Her statement quoted in The Pilot, that “this decision will change the village forever,” seems a little over the top.
Without question, the world of small commercial business operations is not suited for the faint-of-heart. There are long hours and unpredictable weather, and competition comes in all sizes and shapes. The unknown consequence of a withdrawal of commercial space looms large.
On the other hand, the village has never looked more inviting for both visitors and residents right now, and more and more organized events call Old Town home. Live After Five is festive and fun. It is hard to find fault with the recent changes to the Village Green.
Discussion about available commercial space is simply a distraction. No one stepped up to make an offer to purchase the building for its commercial value as the property sat forlornly without a tenant.
Quotes attributed to Councilman Doug Lapins stated that the rezoning would be a “huge mistake” and that “it would send the wrong message to everyone.” I can’t for the life of me understand these positions. What mistake? What message?
Fortunately for Pinehurst, Moore has been schooled in the world of national politics, where “hail fellow well met” is often followed up by questionable actions by both your friends and opponents alike. We hope he sees beyond this local issue and has his eye on the bigger goals — such as business expansion, successful 2014 golf tournaments, viable economic development, and enhancement of the local quality of life measures.
Cheers to council member John Cashion, who clearly understands that a well-maintained private residence contributes significantly more ambience to Old Town than a scruffy commercial building that has housed only failed retail business operations. Applause for your motion to approve, John. It is a shame that four other council members would not provide a second so that the matter could be passed.
Richard Moore and his contractor need to get about the renovation, so that the new home will dominate the residential beginning of Chinquapin Road in time for next year’s crowds of golf spectators.