Southern Pines hears development proposal

The Town of Southern Pines heard a development proposal from a developer without an application at the Aug. 22 work session. It was not clear who approved the developer to be listed on the work session agenda.

Town Manager Reagan Parsons said the process to bounce ideas around about development proposals in an open forum was logical. He said the open forum had been used historically for “back of a napkin” ideas to form ideas with developers to learn which application to complete before the developer completed the wrong application.

Blake Webb, of Capital Commercial, LLC and Carolina Commercial Property Management, LLC, proposed a development for a four-story, mixed-use building with up to 50 upper-level apartments and up to six ground-level commercial land uses at 164 S. Bennett Street.

Council member Anne Petersen said the planning board said the idea of having the open forum discussion before the developer had completed the application was a bad idea.

Still, the Town heard the presentation on the proposed Bennett Street development in the open forum, without the developer completing an application, paying a fee, or meeting with the planning department.

Petersen asked Webb if he thought it was a good idea for him to discuss the development proposal without following the proper planning protocol.

Webb said he was given permission to speak at the open forum and was warned he may face opposition.

Mayor Carol Haney said the structures were too high, too much density, and took up too much parking.

There was a short discussion of hosting workshops on development proposals to work with the open forum ideology.

In other development news, City Explained, Inc was hired as a consultant for the Town’s Comprehensive Long-Range-Plan Project. City Explained, Inc will tour Southern Pines Aug. 23-25.

City Explained, Inc will meet Sept. 20 for public input at the Community Ideas Exchange Workshop at the Douglass Community Center from 4 to 7 p.m. Contact Rachel Mann at [email protected] for future updates and to offer input.

The Town adopted an ordinance to authorize the recommended Comprehensive Long-Range-Plan Project’s Community Advisory Committee listed below:

  1. Adam Kiker
  2. Austin Vernon
  3. Barry Huggins
  4. David Carter
  5. Felicia Winfield
  6. John Weaver
  7. Lynn Anderson
  8. Lynn Thompson
  9. Nora Bowman
  10. Pam Garty
  11. Paul Friday
  12. Ray Owen
  13. Suzanne Coleman
  14. Tom McCabe
  15. Brandon Goodman

In other business matters, the Town made plans to clarify the community center’s name. They will draft an ordinance to change the Douglass Community Center’s name to E.S. Douglass Community Center at the September meeting.

In 1942, the community center was a school and was later dedicated to Southern Pines Mayor Emanuel Douglass.

The Town adopted a resolution to investigate the annexation of land outside city limits at 105 Pavilion Way in the Morganton Road area. Morganton Park North Master Association, Inc. submitted the annex request.

The land is zoned as traditional mixed use, used for mixing residential and non-residential development.

The Town approved a parking space lease for $25 per space with Go Pines, LLC for electric vehicle charging stations. The charging stations support the state’s public access Level 2 Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Charging Infrastructure Program.

Go Pines, LLC said the two obstacles for people driving electric vehicles (EV) was that the vehicles are about $19,000 more than combustion engine vehicles. The cost is expected to decrease over the next two years as vehicle manufacturers produce more EVs, with about 41 different EVs on the market, leading to an overnight demand for public charging points.

The other obstacle to EVs is “range anxiety,” concern of travel limitations.

Go Pines LLC will install two to four, level 2 publicly accessible charging ports within the downtown district, town parks and other public facilities.

The Go Pines, LLC representative said the average charging fee was .30 cents per kilowatt.

The Town approved forming a school zone for the newer portion of Carlisle Street in front of the Southern Pines Elementary. An ordinance for a speed limit of 25 MPH will be drafted for a vote at the September meeting.

The Town reviewed an updated Amtrack Caretaker Agreement at the Southern Pines Welcome Center that expires in October. The agreement proposal pays $900 for the combined caretaker’s customer service duties and custodial services.

Feature photo: Rendering of a proposed development for a four-story, mixed-use building with up to 50 upper-level apartments and up to six ground-level commercial land uses at 164 S. Bennett St. Photo provided by Town of Southern Pines.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected].

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