CDP for S. Bennett Street mixed-use development finally approved by council

Southern Pines approves 2040 Comprehensive Plan 

SOUTHERN PINES – The Town of Southern Pines Council met Tuesday, Sept. 12, with multiple developmental items on the agenda. 

In terms of action items, the council was first presented with a request for an architectural compliance permit for seven four-bedroom cottages and three eight-bedroom cottages off Country Club Circle for the Southern Pines Golf Club. 

The permit sought deviations from two architectural compliance standards, those being ones for building materials, as over 20% of the building contains stucco features, and one for windows because the style and choice reflect residential instead of commercial standards. 

However, due to the absence of Mayor Carol Haney, who is recovering from a recent surgery, and the recusal of council member Bill Pate, the council reached an impasse due to not having enough voting members to pass a decision after council member Ann Petersen voted against the request due to what she perceived as a lack of variance in the cottage designs. 

“What we have here is five, essentially the same buildings with some different attributes on the facade,” Petersen said. “I think the only diversity we have right now is just different window dressing on the front of the buildings. It’s the same building over five times. It’s such an eclectic neighborhood that I’m not sure five of the same buildings with different facades address anything that is similar to the character of the neighborhood.” 

As such, the decision was moved to the council’s next work session on Sept. 26. 

“The statute on voting says it takes a majority of the council members not excused from voting to pass any item that has the effect of an ordinance,” said Town Attorney Mac McCarley. “My belief is that this has the effect of an ordinance because it allows the project to move forward. So a 2-1 vote does not pass it, but it also does not defeat it. It’s basically a no-action. This can come back on the agenda at some point when all four voting members are present, and you can consider it again.” 

The council then once again took up the conceptual development plan for the mixed-use development on the west side of S. Bennett Street between New York Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue, which had been continued across several meetings.  

“All the changes that the applicant made were in an attempt to address that which was brought out during the public hearing, and the revisions that were made after the close of the public hearing were in direct response to discussion by the town council,” said Planning Director BJ Grieve. 

The council voted 3-1 in favor of approving the CDP, with Petersen again being the lone dissent, citing concerns with stormwater runoff and soil contamination. 

The council then held three public hearings, with the first being a request for voluntary annexation of 1.01 acres of property located west of Cliff Court, the second being for the conveyance of 7.73 acres of property located at the corner of Henley Street and Morganton Road to the YMCA of the Sandhills and the third on the draft 2040 Comprehensive Plan. 

“Our goal throughout this process has been that the plan itself should be shaped by the people who live, work and play in Southern Pines,” said Planning and Community Development Specialist Rachel Mann. “We wanted to talk to as many people as humanly possible because we know that anybody who spends time in Southern Pines realizes how special of a place it is, and they would all have a vision and goals for what this town should look like.” 

The comprehensive plan is a long-range land use plan that aims to help guide the council’s decisions related to land development. 

“We started this process over a year ago because we were hearing from the people of Southern Pines that they weren’t happy with the way we were growing and changing, and I think we all knew we could do better,” said council member Taylor Clement. “We reached out, we asked and we listened. It’s not a plan to overhaul what’s already here, but to protect what we have and protect what we love about Southern Pines.” 

Following the hearings, the council approved all three. 

Finally, the council held a quasi-judicial hearing for a preliminary development plan for Morganton Park South Phase 3.  

The application, which involves a planned development district, includes a 101,840-square-foot wholesale retail building, a fuel service station and a 2,050-square-foot drive-through restaurant on 13.89 acres of property. 

However, due to concerns over the deviation requests and presented plans, the council voted to continue the hearing until the 26th. 

“The only issue outstanding that the town council has to make a decision on is, do you want to grant a deviation to be in excess of the Morganton Road Overlay maximum parking spaces,” said Grieve. “And the UDO and planned developments are supposed to prioritize or encourage the use of shared parking. And to us, this does not look like shared parking.” 

The Town of Southern Pines Council will next meet Oct. 10. 

By Ryan Henkel

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