Pinehurst: planning & zoning and campaign promises

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Surprise! Suprise! The Village of Pinehurst was embroiled this week in another zoning controversy.  Our Lambda Award-nominated thrice weekly local newspaper has the details:

Residents living near Lake Pinehurst are mounting a protest against the proposed construction of three condominiums that would be built on vacant property near the lake and the marina.

On March 12, the Village Council will likely consider two text amendments to the village ordinances and a conditional rezoning that would allow the property’s owners to build the condominiums.

About 60 people earlier this week attended a Village Council meeting and voiced their opinions during a long public hearing. The rezoning would allow for multifamily development on the lot that is currently vacant and zoned residential.

John and Linda Mercer, of Houston, own the lot. Jess Dishner read a letter from the Mercers that said they had “always intended to build on the lot and spend their retirement years in Pinehurst,” and they hoped that they could “maintain the beauty of the lakefront” and that it would still “be their dream retirement home.”

Dale Skinner is president of the Lake Pinehurst Villas Homeowners association. The villas are adjacent to the Mercers’ property. Skinner said his members have two primary concerns. First, the new construction of townhomes would obstruct current residents’ view of the marina. Second, by building on the vacant lot and putting a home so close to the water, it would hamper work crews, should repairs to the sewer line or other utilities have to be made.

Tom Reedy, president of the Lake Pinehurst Association, said he had more than 80 supporting emails asking the council not to rezone the property because it is “not our vision of Lake Pinehurst.”

“Putting townhomes on that property would be like putting a tattoo parlor in the Razooks Building (Magnolia Place),” Reedy said.

Other residents voiced concerns about traffic safety. Some even challenged the rezoning as “spot zoning,” which benefits a single parcel of land with a zone different from the surrounding properties.

Village Planning Director Andrea Correll told the council the parcel abuts condominiums on the lake which are currently zoned multifamily and therefore is not spot zoning.

“I do not put us in jeopardy legally,” Correll said.

That’s our Andrea.  Setting up the village once again to get sued.  There’s a reason why the position of Pinehurst village attorney is one of the more lucrative in the county (or region or even STATE).  


Correll’s comments are a bit misleading.  If you look at the meeting agenda, it says THIS:

Public Hearing No. 1. Official Text Amendment to the Pinehurst Development Ordinance to amend Section (b) Table of Dimensional Requirements R-MF Residential, Multi-Family District. The purpose of this amendment is to add a note that allows the reduction of the Lakefront Setback from 60’ to 30’ in the R-MF Zoning District with a required “view angle” provision. The applicant for this amendment is Marcel Goneau.
Public Hearing No. 2. Official Text Amendment to the Pinehurst Development Ordinance to amend Section 12.4 Watershed Protection Overlay District. The purpose of this amendment is to allow for the granting of Special Intensity Allocation to multi-family developments. The applicant for this amendment is Marcel Goneau.
 Public Hearing No. 3. Official Zoning Map Amendment to rezone one parcel of land consisting of approximately .68 acres. This property is addressed as 1400 Burning Tree Rd. This property is currently zoned R-10 (Residential). The proposed map amendment would change the zoning of the property to Conditional Use R-MF (Residential Multi-Family).

If you refer back to an earlier portion of this story, you will note that “villas” — small single family homes — abut at least one side of the property.  Those condos Correll refers to were built some 30 years ago.  None have been built on the lake since.  The zoning has changed during that time.

The property in question is not zoned for multi-family structures.  The villas are relatively upscale.  Height requirements — presumably to not block lake views — are in place.  This is not like Southern Pines’s Leith case — where the property in question had been zoned commercial for more than two decades.  THIS property was not zoned for condos, and surely the nearby property owners could not imagine multi-story condos going up when they bought their properties.  I am sure houses were sold at higher prices BECAUSE of the lake view.  What happens to those home values if the height restrictions are changed and the condos are allowed?

By the way, why is Correll still employed?  

A PAC called The Village Action Team supported the election of  Nancy Fiorillo for mayor and John Cashion and Mark Parson for council in the November 2011 elections.  (Fiorillo and Cashion got elected.  John Strickland got the second council spot on election day.  Parson got appointed to fill Fiorillo’s unexpired term on the council.)  

PAC representatives, while rounding up for votes for this ticket, were promising that this team — if elected — would end the village’s professional relationship with manager Andy Wilkison and planner Andrea Correll.  I realize Andy has his — previously unheard of — eight year contract.  (Southern Pines manager Reagan Parsons has no contract.  He serves “at the pleasure” of the council.)   The VAT ticket has been in office for 14 months now.  Why is Correll still hanging around?  

Village government has been expressing concern about economic development within its jurisdiction.  Talk to real estate and development people in the area.  They will tell you that Correll and her team at Village Hall are one of the biggest problems / impediments to development in the village of Pinehurst.  Even council member Mark Parson agrees.   Back to our story:

Mayor Nancy Fiorillo reminded everyone that people “have a right to build on their property.”

Careful, your highness.  It’s true, and a nice thought.  But THAT  does not exactly jibe with the positions you’ve taken on the now-failed  Tradition of Old Town development.