The elections for local village offices will be here soon. Two candidates, Nancy Fiorillo for mayor and John Cashion for council, have publicly endorsed the idea of pushing forward with the NewCore proposal, while protecting downtown’s historical status. It’s been a while since this development proposal has been in the news, so I’ll take time to refresh your memories (just in time for the big vote).
Here is The Pilot’s coverage from January 2007:
The Pinehurst Village Council has agreed to incorporate the NewCore land-use plan and proposed zoning into a more flexible, small-area zoning ordinance.The council did some fine-tuning to the proposal during its work session Tuesday. Village planners were asked to revise the document, taking into account the changes, and present it to the council at its Feb. 27 work session. A moratorium on new development in the NewCore area is set to expire Feb. 15. The council is expected to extend the moratorium.
NewCore encompasses 19 acres in what was the old service district, bordered by Rattlesnake Trail and Community, Dundee and Spur roads and Magnolia. It also includes an additional 15 acres bordering the area currently planned for new residential development across from the Arboretum on McCaskill at Magnolia Roads.Mayor Steve Smith questioned Planning Director Andrea Correll on notification procedures about the special called work session held Tuesday afternoon. Apparently the village did not send out special individual invitations to affected property owners. The village advertised the meeting and gave notification to the media, as required by the state open meetings law.
Smith instructed Correll to send registered letters with return receipts to the property owners in the NewCore area and members of the Pinehurst Business Guild to notify them of the Feb. 27 meeting.
Some property owners did not respond to letters and public announcements in 2005 when a steering committee held meetings to seek public input as the plan for NewCore was being developed.
The village hired a consulting firm to develop a plan for NewCore. A number of meetings and hearings were held as the plan was being drafted.
Once the project was well under way, the proposed plan drew vehement opposition from some property owners and downtown merchants. The owners of The Pine Crest Inn complained they were unaware that part of the plan called for building a parking facility between the Holly and the Pine Crest inns and a promenade of retail boutiques along its property. The village later dropped that part of the plan.
Village resident Dick Bisbe said during the public-comment period that the village should make “full court press … to get the stakeholders here, short of arresting them.”
“We need to move forward to protect what we have now and make sure any new development that might come in over the next five years or more blends in with enough open space in it,” Mayor Pro Tem George Hillier said. “We have a new draft that gives more flexibility on how specific owned parcels can be treated as to future land use. There’s no push or emphasis on townhouses or condominiums. … Above all, we have no hurry on this.
“We need to get the zoning right and be flexible, so that if someone does come in with a project, we’ll be ready.”
Although the proper public notification and advertising have been done in the past, Smith said he has been hearing from those who really don’t want more retail or residential development so close to downtown and/or nearby historic properties. This contradicts what residents and affected property owners were apparently communicating to consultants and the village through public input meetings and random surveys conducted over two years leading up to the council’s approval of a Comprehensive Long-Range Plan in 2003.
“We were all scared of what could go in with existing zoning still there in the beginning of this process,” Smith said. “If we just do a defensive rezoning that says ‘never develop,’ it will be a disservice to Pinehurst. We owe it to the 20,000 citizens who are expected to be here in future years to plan well in order to have a larger, more vibrant village than we have today.”
The revised plan to be presented to council next month includes having special Cottage Commercial subzoning, instead of Planned Development (PD) as proposed, for mixed retail/office uses at the Community Road-Dundee Road border. That is in the area of the old fire station and small historic cottages.
Shops and offices that would require little parking would be encouraged in that area, reflecting sentiments from those who attended the recent work session.
The majority of NewCore would be rezoned as a PD mixed-use district, so that any proposal to develop the area would be comprehensive in nature, not piecemeal, according to Correll. The council would have to approve a special permit for any new development. The new draft regulations will eventually provide specific, clear-cut detailed requirements.
The remaining areas with PD zoning would allow the council to “respond to a well-thought-out development plan for this area,” Correll said.
Open space requirements to allow “view shed” vistas could be specified with overall percentages of land to be left undeveloped, probably pro-rated among the developers of property as shown in the final zoning map. The plan would reclassify land across from the Arboretum at McCaskill and Magnolia Road to general residential zoning, instead of PD. This could allow a range of types of housing, again subject to specific development regulations tied to special permits from the council.
Here is a resolution passed by The Pinehurst Village Council in May 2007. Click on the link and you will see “parking garage” as a “permitted use” in the NewCore area. It also allows duplexes, townhomes, and multifamily dwellings.
(Traditions of Old Town, anyone?)
Here is a presentation NewCore’s brain trust put together for The Triangle J Council of Governments in October 2007.
Here is the NewCore master plan, as amended in August 2008.
Here is an amendment to village ordinances approved in September 2008.
Take time to read through this material and refresh your memory. Question the candidates, and compare their words to the official documents. Be a truly informed voter. It’s important.