Hearing, Jan. 18, Pine Forest PUD


After months of quiet, the Pine forest proposed PUD slid its rezoning application through the Planning Department quietly during the last days of December. In order for this rezoning to take place, a water agreement (whereby the developer would pay $3 million for water line work) was to have been worked out by the county and developer. Evidently the water agreement is in place, but details are not forthcoming until the hearing. Withholding information like this is unheard of, and its legality could be questioned.
What is Pine Forest
Pine Forest is a huge project. It is 1,799 acres, of which 1,623 are being requested to be rezoned. This includes Nicks Creek, ultimately part of Carthage’s’ water supply, which runs through the middle of the entire property from west to east, with small tributaries feeding it throughout the property. In all, a great deal of wetlands abound, all of which are crucial to the welfare of birds and other wildlife, as well as to rare and unusual native plants.
The two largest functioning longleaf pine forests in North Carolina – Fort Bragg and the Sandhills Gamelands preserve – are both public lands that will remain protected. However, Bruce Sorrie, a botanist with the NC Natural Heritage Program, advises that this 1,799-acre tract is one of the two largest privately-owned functioning natural longleaf pine forests remaining in the North Carolina Sandhills. This property is in Moore County and has the greater biodiversity of these two remaining large tracts. It has a Sandhills lily population, other rare plant and animal species, and is the foraging area for red-cockaded woodpeckers, according to Jay Carter Associates. This property has not only state significance, but also national significance.

What is Planned
Planned are two separate communities – a resort hotel and residential community with a neighborhood retail center, as well as a gated residential community. These communities will include:
· Up to 890 residential and/or hotel rooms (with up to a maximum of 300 hotel rooms)
· 2 championship golf courses
· A golf short course
· Golf clubhouses for each course
· A resort spa, conference center, and fitness center
· A retail and office center
· An on-site wastewater treatment plant for use by Pine Forest and the nearby Dormie Club

What Is at Stake
· Water Where is water to come from within a 15- to 20-year timetable for total buildout? Who is to pay for this development’s water? If water is to come from other counties, will it still flow during droughts?
· Herbicides and Pesticides How will herbicides and pesticides be kept from seeping into Nick’s Creek? This project is in Watershed 3, and the waterways, with their floodplains, are in jeopardy. The chemicals used for both lawns and golf courses will eventually also have disastrous consequences for humans and nature alike.
· Traffic How will traffic be handled on local roads? The cumulative effect of Pine Forest and other projects proposed for this area should be taken into account. Three development projects are currently planned: Stonehill Pines (1,050 homes), Dormie Club (250+ homes), and Pine Forest. At present, at least 2,100 homes would be built in these developments. The planning rule of thumb is 10 trips per day per home. This totals 21,000 more trips a day onto the local roads, including Route 211. The cumulative effect of these proposed developments and the additional school traffic of buses and cars from the new West Pine Middle School (whose entrance is only ½ mile east of Pine Forest on Route 211) will be staggering. Route 211 is scheduled to start construction on widening from 2 lanes to 4 lanes by 2012. The widening will be between Route 73 and the Pinehurst traffic circle. Nevertheless, with new schools, new developments, and new hospital facilities all either proposed or under construction, the planned road infrastructure does not appear adequate for future needs. In fact, traffic volume at the traffic circle in Pinehurst already often functions at a low level.
· Costly Infrastructure Problems Raise Taxes All these new homes may necessitate more schools and additional services. Traffic will back up farther at both ends of the widened Route 211 because of the cumulative effect of these projects. Increased accidents could jeopardize the safety of school children, parents, teachers, and school administrators along with residents of nearby communities; and jammed traffic lanes could prevent emergency vehicle access.
· The Wastewater Treatment Plant What are the real facts concerning the wastewater treatment plant – its safety, odor, maintenance? In Cumberland County, documented problems have occurred. Other counties have had such terrible experiences that they now prohibit their use. Moore County Public Works has only a draft of conditions and standards, and it has no experience with private systems which could be turned over to a homeowners’ organization to operate. Will this really provide enough water for all the golf courses, common areas, and lawns at Pine Forest and the Dormie Club? Could water contamination be an issue?
· Loss of Habitat for Flora and Fauna With so much area allotted for houses, businesses, roads, and golf courses, how will animals have corridors and native plants flourish?

What to Do
In the fall of 2009, Save Our Sandhills voted to resist this PUD. We have an attorney helping us challenge this, and have a list of supporting speakers. Attending the meeting is essential. Numbers are important. It is not necessary for you to speak. The Board of Commissioners needs to see that a large number of citizens are concerned with this project. A project of this size is a small city, and will catapult Moore County from a rural area into an urban area with all its inherent density problems.
County Courthouse, Jan. 18, 6:00, Carthage

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