Town debates zoning changes for new development

Southern Pines Planning Director BJ Grieve hosted a discussion on Morganton Road Apartments at the March 28 town council work session.

Bob Koontz, of KoontzJones Design, and Brian Wise, of Fall Line Development, gave a presentation on the property. The south end of town has food truck activity, has an arcade coming, and being about seven blocks to Pennsylvania Avenue, Koontz said, it is a walkable area.

The proposed 150-unit apartment complex on approximately 4.4 acres would sit at the corner of West Morganton Road and U.S. Highway 1.

“Putting the multifamily development there puts the people there,” Koontz said about using the walkability.

The property is easy access to U.S. Highway 1, and the current general business zoning allows gas stations, storage and other businesses in the area.

The three existing buildings on the property would be removed.

Councilmember Taylor Clement said the proposed multifamily development was a good fit because it was near the Boys and Girls Club, instead of the development being in the middle of a neighborhood.

“But I think you’re going to create a precedent if you start taking over GB [General Business Zoning] and start changing it,” Councilmember Ann Petersen said.

Petersen said the town needed to look at how and why they were growing, and what they would be creating for future generations. She said the town needed to go back to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) and make changes instead of making changes when developers requested changes.

Town Manager Reagan Parsons said the Morganton Road area changed for general business use when the highway came through.

When Mayor Carol Haney asked if the council wanted to move forward with the proposed development, Petersen answered, saying the board needed to make a decision based on the feedback of the presentation, and they had their feedback.

Clement said they needed to see how the town felt about it.

A pre-application meeting for the proposed apartment complex was held three months ago.

The town did not take action on rezoning from general business to multifamily residential development.

During the work session of the meeting, the board discussed steps to change the UDO and update the Comprehensive Long-Range Plan (CLRP), which was last updated in 2016. Steps include making a request for consults and qualifications for $250,000 to pay for a consulting firm. Updating would take about one year, according to the planning director.

Next Wednesday, the board will discuss the changes at a budget retreat.

The planning director said there are three new inquiries on proposed developments each day. Some ideas are immediately tossed, and some are explored for development.

For accuracy, Petersen shared her notes on the planning director’s numbers of pre-applications for proposed projects. Pre-applications are inquiries about development ideas. There are 853 apartments, 33 townhomes, and 96 single-family detached housing units in pre-application status.

There are 205 short-term rental/hotel pre-applications, and 42,000 square feet of commercial development in pre-application status.

There are 266 apartments, 120 condominiums, 57 townhouses, and 44 single-family detached housing units under zoning entitlement. There are 213,000 square feet of medical and retail under zoning entitlement.

Entitlement means the developers and owners of the land meet with the government officials to review traffic analysis, environmental factors, and community response to proposed developments.

There are site plans for 144 apartments, 52 single-family detached housing units, and 278,000 square feet of retail, recreation, and manufacturing.

In the actions part of the meeting, the board amended the American Rescue Plan Act’s plan from providing infrastructure to providing for the continuance of business operations.

The final rules of how to use the funds allow a standard deduction of $10 million or less. Southern Pines’ deduction is less at a loss of $4.6 million for revenue losses during the pandemic.

The board will review plans for the funds at next Wednesday’s agenda meeting at 6 p.m.

The board also discussed adding to its tax debt for a new road to serve a future Target store, other retail, and multifamily development.

Parsons began the tax debt discussion for the proposed draft reimbursement agreement with Midland Southern Pines Retail, LLC for the construction of a parkway between U.S. Highway15-501 and Morganton Road.

The parkway’s purpose is to support the planned retail/residential development’s 220,000 square-foot retail center, 13-acre retail, commercial, and multifamily development.

The two properties for the development, the Van Camp land and the Midland land, are valued at $17 million and would generate the Municipal Service District (MSD) taxes which would help pay off the additional town’s debt for the parkway with an additional tax rate paid by the property owners in the MSD.

Mitch Brigulio of Davenport Public Finance presented an analysis of the town’s existing tax service. The town has a tax service debt of $7.94 million to be paid off in 2036. It has three step-downs to allow for an increase in debt.

At 8% above North Carolina average data points, the town is in good shape.

The tax debt service is 6.8% of the total government budget.

“You have the debt capacity to make taking on more debt reasonable,” Brigulio said about the town considering the parkway construction at approximately $6 million.

The town may vote to adjust the MSD tax rate after the debt is paid.

Feature photo: Proposed site for Morganton Road Apartments provided by the Town of Southern Pines at the March 28, 2022, work session.

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email