February 10, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
The Southern Pines, N.C., Town Council has tabled a proposed 232-unit apartment complex that a developer seeks to build beneath the traffic pattern of the Moore County Airport.
During a lengthy meeting Feb. 8, the council heard from the developer of the Tyler’s Ridge at Sandhills project, town residents, and members of the local aviation community including AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Colin Webster, before deferring action until March 8.
As AOPA reported on Jan. 27, the town planning board had already denied the project approval on a 4-2 vote last month. AOPA had urged the planners to seek a more compatible land use for property in the airport vicinity, thereby avoiding future conflicts between a thriving airport and residents of the planned high-density subdivision.
In a Feb. 2 letter to Southern Pines Mayor Mike Haney, AOPA Manager of Airport Policy John Collins wrote that action by the town to implement an airport hazard overlay district was “a good first step, but now it is time to look at the underlying zoning to ensure that it provides for compatible land uses within the town adjacent to the airport.”
The letter urged that the town continue to deny the developer a needed permit--and work instead to craft zoning rules that would “truly be protective of the health, welfare, and safety of its citizens.”
The town council will next take up the tabled proposal on March 8 at 7 p.m. at the Douglas Community Center in Southern Pines.
“Until then, it is important for the aviation community to continue to reach out to the larger community and elected officials, and educate them on the benefits of the airport, and the need for proper planning around it,” Collins said.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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