Use for former school property still undecided in Aberdeen

Upcoming parade to temporarily close select roads

ABERDEEN — The Town of Aberdeen board met Monday, April 25 with two public hearings dealing with requests for rezonings being the items of focus on the agenda.

The two zoning change requests were for a 6.28 acre parcel north of the intersection of Bethesda Rd. and Saunders Blvd. and 17.7 acres among eight parcels west of US Highway 1.

The first public hearing that was brought before the board was for a zoning map amendment submitted by Robert W. Mitchell to rezone the 6.28 acre parcel north of the intersection of Bethesda Rd. and Saunders Blvd. from R-20 – single-family residential – to RM-6 – multi-family residential.

Robert Mitchell, who was representing the property owners, stated that there was no projected site plan for the property and instead stated that their primary goal was to sell the land, so the rezoning would just be to aid in the sale of the land.

“I feel like this particular parcel is appropriate in this area and reasonable,” Mitchell said. “If you look at it, there’s multi-family units within 70 feet of this and, technically those are not directly joining, so you fall into what could be interpreted as a spot zoning situation. But at the same time, you’re 70 feet away from something that already exists. It’s not like someone trying to put apartments in the middle of a nice subdivision or single-family residents.”

However, concerns were raised by town staff on issues with the town’s previously established goals and plans. 

“The Town of Aberdeen adopted in 2019, our Comprehensive Land Development Plan and in that was our future land use map,” said Planning Director, Justin Westbrook. “This project was included and was identified in our plans to be low-density residential for future uses. The Comprehensive Land Development Plan calls RM-6 to be high-density residential, so this request will be clearly different than what is proposed on the current future land use map.”

The board also brought up conflicts with the current UDO and potential problems with spot zoning, which is illegal in North Carolina, leading to a unanimous vote to deny the request.

The board’s next public hearing was a conditional zoning request by the Town of Aberdeen itself to rezone eight parcels, totaling approximately 17.7 acres, west of US Highway 1 from R-10 and RM-6 to Planned Development.

The town previously purchased the land from Moore County Schools for around $900,000. The parcels include the existing buildings of the former Aberdeen Elementary School, parking lot and activity field.

“When this board bought this property, it wanted two pieces of it: the gym and the auditorium,” said Mayor Robert Farrell. “We now have all of the rest of it here so we are deciding what to do with the rest of it. This is being developed by a consultant that the town brought in to look at to see what we could maximize some of this property for. To get the money back to the taxpayers, we can’t sit on 17 acres. There’s no way to do that. The cost is prohibitive. This is an idea that we have come up with to see if we can recoup the money the taxpayers spent on the properties.”

The current projected plan sees the land divided into three areas: civic, mixed-use and residential. The first proposed area is the civic area, which is approximately 1 acre and includes the gymnasium and auditorium, the next one is a 4.7 acre, mixed-use area which would see limited housing – a maximum of 36 apartment units – and limited retail businesses and the final area would be a 10 acre, residential area with a maximum of 45 single-family, detached dwellings. 

“If we let someone else come in here and develop it, we’re going to get something we don’t want,” Mayor Ferrell said. “If we, the town, didn’t buy it, you could have 80 apartments on that hill. That’s the problem. This is trying to get it to where the town has some control over the development.”

After listening to public comments, the majority in favor of the plan but a few advocating to take the process slowly, the board moved to have the public hearing continued to the next work session.

The board then approved an ordinance for the declaration of temporary road closures on May 21 from 11:45am to 1pm on Kerr Lake Road, Warren Lake Road, from Kerr Lake Road to Legacy Lakes Way, Legacy Lakes Way, from Warren Lake Road to Moultrie Lane, Moultrie Lane, from Legacy Lakes Way to Kerr Lake Road,  and Legacy Lakes Way at the request of the organizers for the Legacy Lakes Community Parade.

Finally, the board approved three different resolutions relating to town projects and a recommended non-discrimination and civil rights protection for the use of federal funds.

The Town of Aberdeen Board will next meet May 23.

By Ryan Henkel, North State Journal

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