Southern Pines approves FY 23-24 budget with $0.29 tax rate

Decision on proposed mixed-use development postponed

SOUTHERN PINES — The Southern Pines Town Council met Tuesday, June 13, with quite a few public hearings on the agenda.

The council held four public hearings, with the first being the second hearing for the proposed FY 23-24 budget, which includes a reduction in property tax rate down to $0.29.

The only significant change to the budget since last month’s hearing was an increase in the solid waste fee from the previously proposed amount of $17 a month to $17.25 a month.

“This is a direct result of Moore County letting us know here in the last couple of weeks that they were going to increase all of their fees for yard waste, recycling and garbage at transfer stations significantly more than what they had told the municipalities a number of months back when we started the budgeting process,” said Town Manager Reagan Parsons.

Following the hearing, the board approved the FY 23-24 budget.

The second hearing was for a conceptual development plan for 0.786 acres on the west side of S. Bennett Street between New York Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue that includes a rezoning request from Central Business to Planned Development.

“The developer wants to build a mixed-use building on that property,” said Planning Director BJ Grieve. “A mixed-use building contains a mixture of uses. In this particular case, according to the artistic rendering, the ground floor has retail and restaurants, and it can be up to 25% offices on the ground floor. It also has the opportunity to have offices on the floor above that, and then it also has residential condominium units.”

According to the proposal, the building would be four stories, however, the UDO limits building heights to 45 feet with a maximum of three stories. However, a planned development zoning would allow for a developer to draft their own regulations and deviate from the traditional UDO.

“If we’re really aiming for a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere and for our town to maintain a particular consistency in its architectural integrity, I think that while we might have certain rules in place, there’s a wonderful opportunity for flexibility under certain circumstances,” said Mayor Pro Tem Paul Murphy. “I see it as helping to facilitate that pedestrian-friendly environment. The letter of the law kills, but the spirit of the law brings life, and I think we might need to think about these kinds of opportunities for flexibility.”

However, that same sentiment wasn’t shared by every other council member.

“This offers middle-income affordable ownership, which is something that none of those other apartments have,” said councilmember Taylor Clement. “That’s something that, if you build this, you offer to people, which is a huge asset, and it’s hard to find somebody who’s willing to build something that offers that ownership opportunity. All those things being said, I would put a ton of conditions on this before I would approve it.”

Due to public comments and the need to draft out potential conditions for the development, the council continued the hearing.

“The letter of the law kills, but the spirit of the law brings life, and I think we might need to think about these kinds of opportunities for flexibility.”

Mayor Pro Tem Paul Murphy

“We have a lot to think about,” said Mayor Carol Haney. “There’s a lot of growth in Southern Pines, and we need to do it right.”

The third hearing was for a rezoning request for 2.6 acres of property on the west side of Valley View Road adjacent to Hyland Hills Golf Course.

“What we have is an application to rezone a parcel that is 2.6 acres that is presently zoned FRR,” Grieve said. “It is zoned FRR because it was part of the Highland Hills Golf Course. The subject parcel is now under individual ownership, and the owners would like to rezone it to an RS-3 zoning to put a detached single-family residential home.”

Following the hearing, the council approved the request.

The final hearing was a request to rezone one acre of town-owned land on the north side of Eastman Road from RS-1 to FRR.

“The subject parcel was acquired by the town in 2003, and as it was town property, it was never rezoned from RS-1 to FRR,” Grieve said. “That district allows for public uses, including utility uses, and since it’s right next to the town’s water tank, the town engineer initiated this request to make it easier to use it in a public manner that way.”

The council approved the request following the hearing.

Finally, the council approved an architectural compliance permit for a Sheetz convenience store to be built at 1930 North Poplar Street and adopted the Metropolitan Planning Area for the newly formed Sandhills Area Metropolitan Planning Organization that will oversee the new urban district within Moore County that encompasses seven municipalities.

The Southern Pines Town Council will next meet July 11.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal

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