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Proposed 335-lot subdivision draws fire

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Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2019 12:00 pm

PELETIER — A standing-room-only crowd of more than 50 people crammed town hall Monday night as the planning board unanimously passed on to town commissioners a proposal to rezone the Silver Creek Golf Course for up to 335 single-family home lots.

Owner Eddie McNeill, speaking after the meeting, said he closed the golf course in September and is revisiting a long-delayed idea to develop the property, which totals about 200 acres off Highway 58. He said he’s been thinking about it since 2009.

“I’m just too old (for the golf course) and had planned this years ago and decided to go ahead and try,” he said. “People don’t play golf anymore.”

Silver Creek opened in 1986. The golf course’s website, which is still functional, includes a message that states:  “We regret to inform you, that due to damages sustained from Hurricane Florence, our course will be closed until further notice.”

Mr. McNeill said during the planning board meeting he envisions homes in the 1,800- to 2,100-square-foot range, but noted that the final number of lots is subject to many considerations, such as determination of wetlands and the layout of roads.

The homes would connect to a private waste treatment plant in a corner of the golf course property, according to Mr. McNeill, and would get water from West Carteret Water Corp.

The development would be screened from adjacent residents’ homes by a 20-foot vegetative buffer.

The specific proposal is to rezone the land from B-1 (business) to R-15 (residential, minimum lot size 15,000 square feet). It will now go before commissioners for a public hearing at their next meeting, which will be Monday, Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in town hall off Highway 58.

Commissioners met after the planning board meeting Monday night, but took no action on the proposal other than to accept the planning board’s report that it had passed on the proposal.

Planning board Chairman Floyd Dixon said after the meeting that “passing on” the proposal was not a positive or negative recommendation, and if commissioners vote to rezone the property, the planners will look at the subdivision proposal in detail, probably over a long period of time.

However, he added that he thought the project would be “good for the town of Peletier,” a statement that drew guffaws from some in the audience.

Even “passing on” the rezoning proposal to commissioners didn’t sit well with many in the audience Monday night.

Kenneth Tanguay, who lives adjacent to the golf course, was critical of the board for acting “without knowing any of the details,” except that Mr. McNeill plans to connect the homes to a package treatment plant instead of to individual septic tanks.

He said he and his neighbors were most concerned about drainage, which he said has been bad for years, but others in the audience said they are equally concerned about increased traffic congestion and possible environmental impacts.

Mayor Dale Sowers, who isn’t on the planning board but handles most planning review activities for the town, stressed during the planning board meeting that Mr. McNeill couldn’t develop and present formal plans until he knew if the town would approve the rezoning.

“It would be a waste of his money,” the mayor said.

He added, however, “It (approval) will be a long process. And we will listen to you during the public hearing” next month.

One audience member said the town could have stopped the whole project Monday night if the planning board had simply recommended disapproval of the rezoning request. Mayor Sowers said that wasn’t the case, that even a negative recommendation wouldn’t preclude the commissioners from holding a public hearing on Mr. McNeill’s rezoning request.

Planning board member Crystal Bird made the motion to send the rezoning request to commissioners, and member Walter Krause gave the second.

“I don’t see any reason not to make a motion to pass it on to commissioners,” Ms. Bird said. “Then there can be a public hearing and everyone can give their thoughts.”

Some residents, including Mr. Tanguay, said they were worried the development is a “done deal,” in part because Mr. McNeill is a longtime businessman in the town with “many connections” in the area.

Several audience members said the proposed development could change the character of the mostly rural small town.

Mayor Sowers disagreed the project was a done deal, saying after the meeting that although he votes only to break ties, he’s got no problem “standing up” to people he has known and worked with for years.

He also said, after the adjournment of the planning board and board of commissioners’ meetings, commissioners won’t necessarily vote on the rezoning next month, but could choose to delay a decision for some time in order to get more input and have more discussion.

The board, he said to a few residents who lingered after the sessions, could eventually decide that R-15 is not the proper zone for the golf course land, but R-20 (minimum lot size 20,000 square feet) might be.

Commissioners in the past have rejected a couple of R-15 zoning requests, but approved them for R-20.

Ultimately, though, the mayor said, “it’s his (Mr. McNeill’s) property,” and if the land is rezoned, and he follows town subdivision rules and state regulations, there would be little the town could do to stop the development.

Commissioner Bill Norris, also speaking after the meetings, told the lingering residents that “growth is not new to us,” referring to several other subdivisions in the development stage off Norris Landing and West Firetower roads.

But, Mr. Norris added, “As a commissioner, I listen” to the residents.

The problem, he said, is that in many cases until recently, few if any residents have shown up for meetings or gotten involved in decisions the commissioners must make.

He urged residents to “keep coming out and work with us and (express) concerns about drainage and water quality.

“We need you to show up,” he emphasized. “I’m very concerned, too, and I do care.”

Many residents – some who live in town, some who live just outside it – made it clear they’d be back for the public hearing in February.

Mr. Tanguay, after the meeting, said he’s a member of the Silver Creek Golf Course homeowners’ association.

“We’re going to be seriously impacted” by the project, he said. “We have a limited amount of funds, but do have enough to hire an attorney, if necessary.”

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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1 comment:

  • Speakeasy posted at 10:35 am on Fri, Jan 11, 2019.

    Speakeasy Posts: 18

    “I’m just too old (for the golf course) and had planned this years ago and decided to go ahead and try,” he said. “People don’t play golf anymore.”

    -People still play golf, they just don't play this course. Many I've spoken to wont play Silver Creek due to the cart path being badly rutted up. However, I am a resident of an adjacent subdivision and I feel that if drainage and water quality are done correctly Mr. McNeil has the right to do with his property as he wants, within the law of course.


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