The Southern Pines Town Council held their April agenda meeting in the Community Room of the Southern Pines Police Department on Pennsylvania Avenue beginning at 7:00 P.M. Four of the five Council Members attended, along with Town Manager, Reagan Parsons.
The meeting was relatively brief. A discussion of the transfer of sanitation services from Waste Management to Waste International may be of interest to many residents.
Otherwise, the meeting was rather straightforward and perfunctory. No further bribes of crony companies to locate in Southern Pines were discussed tonight, thank goodness. However, a resolution was passed to complain to the NC State Legislature and Governor about the proposed elimination of a parks slush fund that might
(but never has
) provide "free money" to Southern Pines for parks improvements..... I really hate this mindset of dependency and entitlement regarding state and federal grants by our local governments. Let's accept responsibility for our own "wants and needs"!
If we want to improve a town asset, let's either talk about town taxes or -- better yet -- let's do some local fundraising! Let's stop sucking at the teats of state and federal bureaucracies! Please!
The meeting packet may be found here
. Bill Cochrane
The Southern Pines Town Council held their worksession meeting to plan their February meeting agenda in the Community Room of the Southern Pines Police Department on Pennsylvania Avenue beginning at 3:00 P.M. The first item on the agenda was discussion of the Downtown Park Conceptual Master Plan. The Council heard from Robert Reeve, Director - Recreation & Parks, and from Vince Zucchino (one of the primary architects of the Downtown Park Plan). The Council decided not to take formal action on the Conceptual Master Plan at the February Town Council meeting. Instead, the Council will delay formal action until the Parks & Recreation Department is preparing grant requests -- which would require an approved Master Plan.
The second item on the agenda was discussion of the project to install new smart water meters as part of the Automatic Meter Reading System. These are "RFID" meters which employ very low power transmitters which must be scanned by reader equipment in a truck while driving by the meter location. These meters are not as sophisticated or intrusive as the "SmartMeters" which the power companies are trying to deploy (which use high power cell network transmitters and detailed intrusive monitoring of individual appliances and micro-usage). The primary savings of this $2.2 Million dollar project are from reduced meter reading costs, and the justifying savings are realized over the long-term.
The final item on the agenda was discussion of the joint venture with the County to construct a new Fire Department sub-station and County E.M.S. substation on property which is essentially being donated by the Sandhills Community College on Airport Road near the small traffic circle.
The meeting agenda and packet may be found here
Southern Pines held a Town Hall meeting at the Southern Pines Police Department Community Room on Pennsylvania Avenue beginning at 5:30
P.M. on January 16, 2013. "The purpose of this meeting is to solicit ideas and input from the community regarding the selection of a new Police Chief.
This meeting will be hosted by Stephen K. Straus, Ph.D. from Developmental Associates, LLC. Residents are invited to share their input about what characteristics, experience, and professional competencies they would like to see in a new Police Chief. In addition, community input will be solicited with a focus on the present and future challenges facing both the community and the police department.
The hiring of a Police Chief is highly important to the Town of Southern Pines and residents are encouraged to participate by attending this meeting and/or providing written comment."
The Southern Pines Police Chief Job Bulletin may be found here
The Southern Pines Town Council held their December meeting in the Douglass Community Center on Pennsylvania Avenue beginning at 7:00 P.M. After handling the consent agenda, the Council took up an architectural review of renovation changes to the Pinecrest Mall, which were approved unanimously.
The majority of the meeting time was consumed by a public hearing on the proposed return of 217 square feet of town ritght-of-way to the adjoining two lots. This transfer was requested by the property owner of these two lots in order to allow development (building of two homes) of the two lots in conformance with town ordinances.
The town staff had verified that no utilities or other essential town interests were affected by the proposed transfer. The matter would not affect the existing roadways, traffic, utilities, or plans in any way. The proposal would allow for the construction of two additional homes in this development, consistent with existing homesites, adding to the town's tax base.
However, a majority of the subdivision's residents turned out in opposition to the proposal. During the public hearing, all who spoke unanimously opposed the proposal. All of the public comments offered pertained either to perceived traffic hazards from two additional driveways, feared disruption to drainage water flows, or feared reduction of property values from the type of homes which might be constructed on the two lots.
I tried to sympathize with those who spoke in opposition. I really did.
But, honestly, the comments were either a pure stretch of credibility or purely emotional, even irrational reactions. Let's review the three arguments offered:
(1) The construction of new homes will create a traffic hazard -- Really?! Out of 68 homes along Boiling Springs Circle (and more along San Davis Road) two more will present unacceptable traffic? That's less than 3%! It's simply not a credible argument. It's purely a stretch. And the development of these lots was always anticipated. Putting a single house on the two lots would still represent a 1.5% increase. That's a pretty insignificant and silly difference, isn't it?
(2) Water drainage -- This can be accommodated by proper landscaping and drainage engineering. Honestly, from the testimony of neighbors, it sounds to me as if the existing situation
is worse than what should be accomplished by proper development, lendscaping and drainage provisios required in development approvals and oversight.
(3) Property valuation -- The opponents stressed that existing lots average half an acre in size and complained that the two lots would be smaller and could accommodate smaller homes, inconsistent with surrounding homes, which would devalue their properties. This simply is not accurate
. The two lots in question total 1.2 acres; therefore, dividing the property would result in lots over
half an acre each. Thus, the two lots would be fully comparable in size to existing homes, and the new construction could be consistent.
This is a stark example of "tyranny of the majority". This is why we live in a republic
, and not
a democracy. The purpose of a republic is to protect the rights of individuals and minorities from the whims and tyrannies of the majority. I wonder how those who spoke in opposition to this property owner's interests in consistently and prudently developing his property would "feel" if a majority of their neighbors opposed their own personal preferences for appearance or sale of their own?
such a thing as legitimate public interest. This is why we have zoning laws, development ordinances, and construction regulations. Such matters are, usually, reasonable compromises between individual property rights and the rights and interests of adoining property owners and the immediate community. But, listening as intently as I could, I could not conclude that those who spoke had made a credible and believable case for denying this proposal.
I encourage the Town Council to transfer the right-of-way as proposed and then to carefully evaluate the development plans to ensure proper drainage and consistent construction.
The meeting packet can be found here
. The meeting agenda may be found here
The Southern Pines Town Council held their November regular meeting in the Douglass Community Center on W Pennsylvania Avenue beginning at 7:00 pm. The first part of the meeting was dedicated to honoring Mr. Felton Capel, Sr. and his family. The Council presented him with honorary gifts and passed a resolution to rename the portion of Knoll Road which runs past Pinecrest High School from Morganton Road to the small traffic circle. The new name will be Felton Capel Lane.
After a 10 minute adjournment, the Council handled the consent agenda and then approved the architectural application from Longhorn Steakhouse. (Good!)
Next, the Council took up the rezoning request for development of the Knollwood Tract under new Planned Unit Development zoning. Each Council member made a statement to explain his decision. The vote was 4 in favor and 1 in opposition, approving the rezoning request (and declining to order any unique impact study). (Great!)
Finally, the Council heard a presentation from those who developed the proposed long term development plan for the Southern Pines Downtown Park. A public hearing was opened to allow public comments and reactions to be expressed by those in the audience who wished to speak. The Council, as agreed in their last agenda meeting, announced that a vote on the plan will be delayed until the December regular meeting in order to allow additional time for public input.
In my opinion, the plan is a great plan for the Park. I believe it is a brilliant design, and a wonderfully flexible map for phased and prioritized development of this land space. I agree with those who reacted negatively to the proposed building; however, this plan was designed and is intended to be a 20+ year phased process. No, we do not need another -- and cannot afford another -- town building at this time or in the near future in this terrible economy. But if there is anyone who seriously thinks that additional town space will not be needed in another 10-20 years, that one is not thinking rationally and realistically. My hat is off to those who developed and presented this plan. I believe that all who desire to enhance and protect the Downtown should be in favor of this proposal as it will definitely enhance the Downtown and draw citizens and visitors.
The meeting agenda may be found here
. The meeting packet may be found here
Southern Pines Police Dept. Building
The Southern Pines Town Council held their November Agenda Meeting in the Community Room of the Southern Pines Police Department on Pennsylvania Avenue beginning at 7:00 pm. After a brief architectural review of the Longhorn Steakhouse application, with which the Council unanimously concurred, the Council moved on to a discussion of the upcoming vote on the master conceptual plan of the Planned Unit Development application for the Knollwood Tract.
This involved a rather lengthy discussion which included the Council's consideration of the petition and related emails regarding that petition for the Town to order or have conducted an "economic impact analysis" (or, perhaps, "community impact analysis") before the PUD application is approved. All of the Town Council members made very reasoned and cogent statements about this matter. It was obvious that all had given the petition issue considerable thought and reflection. In the end, the Council decided not to order such an "impact analysis".
This is a clear victory for equal justice under the law, a triumph of common sense, and a very laudable demonstration of governmental restraint on the part of our Council. I was very proud of them.
After concluding the Knollwood discussions, the Council moved on to discuss the items to be handled under the Consent Agenda and a resolution honoring Felton J. Capel, Sr. Also the Council agreed to hold a public hearing on the proposed plan for the Downtown Park, but to allow more time afterward for public comment. The vote on acceptance of the plan will be scheduled for the December, 2012 meeting.
The meeting agenda may be found here
. The meeting packet may be found here
The Southern Pines Town Council held their Worksession Meeting in the Community Room of the Southern Pines Police Department on Pennsylvania Avenue, beginning at 3:00 pm. This was a 3 hour+ meeting which began with continuing discussion of the PUD zoning request for the Knollwood Tract. The applicant submitted responses to questions which had been raised by the public and Council members at the last regular Council meeting public hearing. A few exchanges indicate that some concerns remain regarding the amount of latitude and flexibility contained in the master plan of the PUD application. Certain council members do not have full faith in the incremental plans and reviews required by the PUD ordinance.
Next came a brief discussion of the Palustris Festival and the Town's support of the Moore County Arts Council.
Next, the Council reviewed a rezoning proposal for the property at the corner of N Leak Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The proposed rezoning would allow an existing building to be converted into schoolrooms and school offices for a private school. The Council favored the re-development and asked the applicant to continue to work with the Town Staff to determine the better of certain options.
Next came a report on the Downtown Park Conceptual Master Plan. Those who presented the report and plan did an excellent job with both the plan and the presentation. It seems a certainty that the Town Council will approve and adopt this plan. This design for the park is exemplary and will add immensely to the Town and community.
Next, the Council heard heard a proposal for re-development of three adjoining lots located in the Page Street block. A tentative go-ahead for development of a rezoning application was given; however, the potential applicant was instructed to work further with the Town Staff to determine the optimum zoning and development approach.
The Council tentatively granted a request to a partial closiing of crossover right-of-way comprising just short of 300 square feet of property. This will permit re-development of existing property which would otherwise not comply with the Town's UDO. The closing will be advertised in the newspaper for the prescribed period and, assuming no unanticipated issues, the closing will be approved at a future regular meeting.
Lastly, a lengthy discussion of the potential changes in trash, recycliing, and yard debris pickup resulting from an upcoming Request for Proposal. The contract with the Town's current contractor, Waste Management, is about to expire, and competitive bids followed by a new contract, potentially with a different firm, may result in changes to service. The Council gave guidance to the Town Staff on options and questions regarding the contents of the RFP.
The meeting agenda and packet can be found here
I congratulate the Council on how they handled all matters before them.
Wood County resident Charles Scott filed the lawsuit, claiming that displaying the national motto, "In God We Trust", and offering an invocation before meetings violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But Jeff Mateer of Liberty Institute
, who represented Wood County in federal court, asserts that Scott's argument was flawed."The motivation behind this lawsuit was questionable at best,"
he comments. "The Supreme Court has made clear on more than one occasion that legislatures, counties, cities, municipalities can open their meetings in prayer
.""Likewise, the Supreme Court has made clear, and other courts have made clear that there is nothing wrong with our national motto, 'In God We Trust.'"
The plaintiff submitted extensive documentation, trying to persuade the court that his constitutional rights had been violated by the commissioner's alleged endorsement of religion."Fortunately the judge was not persuaded at all by his arguments and position, and he was more persuaded, I think, by the Supreme Court and the actual language of the First Amendment",
The judge dismissed the lawsuit, ruling in favor of the county.
I love the way the Moore County Board of Commissioners always begin their meetings with a prayer and Pledge of Allegiance. I am happy that the Southern Pines Town Council has decided to begin their meetings with the Pledge. However, I would be happier to see the Town Council begin their meetings also with a prayer offered by someone in the audience.
The Southern Pines Town Council held their October regular meeting at the Douglass Community Center on Pennsylvania Ave beginning at 7:00 P.M. Because of the public hearing on the Bell family's Knollwood Tract Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning application, the meeting continued until midnight. The first video is Part 1 of the meeting which includes all of the Town Council agenda items up until the PUD hearing, which was scheduled last on the agend to ensure that all other items were addressed and completed first.
The meeting packet, which includes the Agenda can be found here
The items in the first portion of the Town Council meeting were fairly routine with the exception of the demolition order for the property on Pennsylvania Avenue which has been an active issue for over five years. The Council decided, due to the progress that has been made toward cleaning up the lot and structure and conducting an engineering analysis on the viability of the structure, and on the findings that the basic structure can be salvaged and reconstructed -- additional time will be permitted for the property owner and those who wish to save the structure to effect basic reconstruction (e.g. roof reconstruction) and exterior restoration. If the schedule deadlines are met, the Town Council will continue to work with the "restorers". Otherwise, the demolition order will be enforced.
The Part 2 video of this Town Council meeting is the public hearing on the Bell family's application for Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning on their Knollwood tract property. This public hearing was long.... And I didn’t hear anything new. And I am still dismayed by the number of people who would change the rules and requirements at will for an applicant based on how they “feel” about the proposal. That invites totalitarianism. It is certainly not equal justice under the law. I am dismayed by their desire for government favoritism at the expense of the taxpayer or applicant. Nothing was said that changed my mind.
It is good, on the other hand to see folks get involved in important issues. Too many times citizens remain asleep and then ask later “who let this happen?”
without ever admitting that “they, themselves let it happen”
I’ve received my share of feedback. I don’t mind it.... if no one objects to what you say, to the principles you espouse, to the stand you take – then you’re really not doing anything and you’re certainly not
making a difference.
I thought some of the speakers took too long. But I really didn’t see any excesses that I will criticize. And, I was happy to see that all speakers and the audience kept it civil and respectful.
The Southern Pines Town Council held their October Agenda Meeting in the Community Room of the Southern Pines Police Dept. on Pennsylvania Ave. beginning at 7:00 P.M. A copy of the meeting packet can be found here
The Council addressed a number of pending text amendments, zoning requests, architectural designs, etc. pertaining to development projects. The Council also addressed a number of other fairly routine matters related to Town governance.
The matter which consumed the most time during the meeting and drove the most discussion was planning for the public hearing on the pending PUD zoning request to be held during the upcoming Regular Meeting scheduled for October 9. This is the PUD zoning and plans by the Bell family to begin development of their Knollwood property tract.
Also, there was considerable discussion of the pending demolition order for the property on Pennsylvania Ave. Neil Smith of Neil Smith Engineering, Southern Pines, reported on his engineering structural analysis. He reported that the block walls are sound, as are the floor joists. However, the entire roof structure will have to be completely razed and rebuilt. Also, the entire electrical systems, and probably plumbing, will have to be completely replaced in order for the building to meet standards and be habitable.
It is unknown whether those who are attempting to secure funding for this structural restoration will be able to secure adequate funding for all this construction work. Further, it remains unclear what use those folks will propose for the property. Therefore, a rezoning request is expected and must be resolved in addition to disposition of the demolition order since the property is currently zoned residential.
I was pleased with all that I heard and observed of our Town Council during this meeting.