Council member wants zoning changes
Southern Pines Council Member Chris Smithson wants zoning changes to be less permissive, especially when it comes to Planned-Unit Developments like the "Knollwood Tract." Two years ago Smithson was the lone voice on the council voitng against zoning changes which allow developers unprecedented leeway in drawing up mixed-use projects. Smithson said he opposed the measure because it alloed in his words "everything from hamburger joints to horse farms." Fast-forward to now..... Smithson is still on the warpath, arguing that unless a detailed plan accompanies a rezoning application for hte 588 acres adjoining the Pine Needles Lodge And Golf Club, such aplan isn't worth the paper it's printed on. The inital applacation did include a "Conceptual Master Plan," bu tmembers of the Bell Family, which own the property, have promised they will present the planed development in its final form when the ocuncil meets this month. Until that happens, says Smithson, it is dangerous to assume that details can be worked out as the master plan evolves. He has even posted a lengthy document ot that effect on his website, where he calls incremental planning a myth. Councilman Smithson insists that zoning requirements must meet the applicant's stated intent for the property. The Bell Family wants to break ground within three years, but because of its scale the ambitious project oculd take 15 years to complete. As presently concieved, the planned-unit development would inlcude office and commercial space, single-family housing, assisted living units, a hotel and a golf course..