The Tradition of Old Town, a proposed townhome development at the corner of McCaskill and Magnolia, was a sore subject for many Pinehurst voters during the November village elections. The previous council had voted to rezone the property — located amidst high-dollar single family homes — to allow for the construction of townhomes. Many Old Town residents were concerned that this development would damage property values in the exclusive, historic neighborhood. Many analysts see THAT rezoning vote as one of the main reasons we now have three new faces on the village council.
I spoke to a Pinehurst elected official this weekend who told me the current council is laying the groundwork for moving against the development. The official tells me The Tradition’s developer has filed for bankruptcy, and the village council is considering “an amendment to the Village Residential District’‘ that would decrease the allowed density for the property from 16 units per acre to “something more appropriate, given the location.”
Village leaders DO need to tread carefully here. A bankruptcy filing — if one truly has happened here — does not always mean the forfeiture of property. Also, the law is very explicit about not contacting filers or tampering with their assets while bankruptcy proceedings are ongoing.
The village also has the potential to find itself in a quandary not unlike the one involving Leith Automotive and The Town of Southern Pines. Time and again, the village has shown that it is not shy about spending tax dollars to send Mike Newman into the courtroom.
This also could send mixed signals to the business community. On one hand, the village is rolling out the red carpet for Railhouse Brewery. On the other hand, they are looking to snatch the rezoning they already awarded this developer.
If this can be settled without yet another round of taxpayer-subsidized litigation (or trampling on anyone’s property rights), let’s do it.