‘Pavilion in the Pines’ proposal draws questions

At the Feb. 8 meeting of Locust City Council, Brentwood Farms resident Scott Carpenter gave a presentation to the board in explanation of a request for a conditional rezoning of a 30-acre property from OPS (Open Space) to CBI-C (Campus, Business, and Institutional).

A public hearing followed, with several neighboring residents expressing concerns and questions as to the effects this would have on the surrounding properties.

In his presentation, Carpenter expressed his intent to develop a reception facility on the property, with potential uses that would include “seasonal events,” with weddings, proms and family reunions mentioned as examples. A pavilion, which has already been constructed on the property, has been used for family gatherings.

“Our purpose in requesting (rezoning) is to provide the community with reception options and conduct seasonal events, which will compliment and enhance the City of Locust,” Carpenter said.

“Locust does not have such a facility at this time,” he added, “and developers want these 30 acres.”

Carpenter said he wants to keep the property as open farmland.

The proposed development is located off Renee Ford Road and adjoins property of Carolina Presbyterian Church to its northeast. It would be accessible (under present conditions) by Brentwood Farms Drive, a private road off Brentwood Drive.

Residents of the Brentwood neighborhood raised concerns as to a number of matters.

“My concerns and those of my neighbors are going to take more than just tonight to digest,” said David Grigg Jr. of Brentwood Drive. “I want time to really go through it.”

Grigg expressed concern that the council might take a favorable stance on the rezoning since Carpenter is a long-time Locust resident.

“The reason you like this is because of Scott and his family. Would you support it if a stranger made the request? No, it wouldn’t go anywhere,” he said.

Paul Walton of Brentwood Drive said that rezoning the tract would violate stipulations in the deeds of homes in the neighborhood.

“Our deed mandates ‘no manufacturing or commercial enterprises,’ ” he said. “It’s residential only.”

Other residents of Brentwood Drive stated separate concerns over the proposal.

“Crime goes up when you spotlight a destination and bring more people in,” said Russell Lavoie, who echoed Walton’s concerns that rezoning would violate the standards mandated in the deeds.

Angela Lavoie stated opposition based on what she termed as the applicant having “put the cart before the horse.”

“He (Carpenter) has already got a website, and he’s already taking reservations for events,” she said, adding that Carpenter “didn’t talk to any of the neighbors about this.”

Lavoie also expressed her belief that the existing road is not sufficient to handle the increased traffic a reception facility would attract.

“Put a road in somewhere else,” she said, “ours is not meant for this much traffic.”

In addition to concerns over deed restrictions and traffic, Bobby Curlee of Brentwood expressed concerns with driver safety should the rezoning be approved.

“The Brentwood Drive and Renee Ford Road intersection is a bad intersection,” Curlee said. “There is a blind spot in the curve to the north, and because of some pampas grass near the road, the sight line is limited as well. Increased traffic there is a recipe for disaster, so I’m against it.”

Councilman Harry Fletcher, who lives on Brentwood Drive, spoke following the public hearing.

“This sounded like a positive for Locust at first, but now that I’ve taken a closer look, I don’t like it as much,” he said, recounting having nearly been hit once at the intersection while riding his motorcycle.

“Plus, the pavement in the neighborhood is not designed for heavy traffic.”

Councilman Rusty Efird stated that more time and study was needed to make a sound decision.

“I understand the intent,” he said, “but we need more time to process this.”

Councilman Mike Haigler made a motion to table action on the request until the council’s March meeting, and the council passed the motion unanimously.

“I know Scott (Carpenter) will take this back and check his options,” Haigler said. “There are a lot of things we (City Council) had not thought about, and waiting on this will give us some time.”

Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.