Hope Mills commissioners on Monday approved a request to conditionally zone a tract annexed by the town in 2021 to allow a developer to pursue a project that would include both commercial and residential development.
The 82.5 acres in question is east of the intersection of Rockfish and Waldos Beach roads and west of the intersection of Camden Road and Wipperwill Drive.
The zoning request, which followed a public hearing, was submitted by acting agent Trae Livick on behalf of property owner Barbara M. Johnson heirs.
When annexed, the tract was authorized to be zoned as what Town Planner Emily Weidner told commissioners was R5 single family and the C2(P) planned service and retail. Since that time, staff has worked with a potential developer to create a conditional zoning layer to accommodate the developer’s intent for the property, a proposed project consisting of 55.1 acres of commercial and 27.4 acres of residential development.
The Southwest Cumberland Land Use Plan — a document that guides planning and zoning decisions made by county staff and local elected officials in the southwestern portion of the county — calls for “medium density residential” and “office institutional and parks” use in the site. The zoning request would not fulfill that, falling into inconsistency with the land use plan.
However, Hope Mills planning staff asked that the request be approved anyway because they believe the financial and regional impact of the proposed site falls in line with the long-term vision of the area being developed to the north.
“Approval of the request is reasonable and in the public interest because the district requested is in harmony with surrounding existing uses and zoning,” the staff recommendation on the zoning request reads.
Interim Town Manager Chancer McLaughlin told board members they could not discuss what commercial businesses might move into the space, but could talk about the zoning itself during the open session meeting. In response to a query from Commissioner Joanne Scarola regarding what businesses would not be appearing in the property, Weidner confirmed the town can rule out gas stations and convenience stores.
Commissioner Jerry Legge said he lives in the area of the proposed site and was fully supportive of approving the rezoning.
No members of the public spoke during the public-comment section regarding the zoning. The board unanimously approved to move forward with the zoning.
The board unanimously approved its consent agenda, which included a pay study for town staff. This study was a request from Legge and Commissioner Grilley Mitchell, who asked for a review of the pay scale for the entire staff during the last board meeting. The study will cost the town $18,000.
The town also approved a contract with D&E Construction to replace wooden deck boards on the pedestrian bridge spanning the Hope Mills Dam spillway. Staff received five qualifying bids, with D& submitting the lowest bid of $15,900.
The new town clerk, Ashley Wyatt, was sworn in at Monday’s meeting. Wyatt will replace Jane Starling, who served as clerk for five years and is retiring in November.
After a closed session regarding personnel matters and attorney-client privilege, the board closed the meeting.
The board’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6, in the Bill Luther Boardroom at Town Hall.
Contact Hannah Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.