Spring Lake residents to provide feedback on new land use plan
For the first time in two decades, Spring Lake residents will have the opportunity to shape the future of their town, which they say has significant potential, by providing feedback on a new land use plan on Thursday .
This plan dictates how government officials can use the property for future development, redevelopment and preservation. Examples include adding apartment complexes, reserving space for walking paths and sidewalks, expanding sewers and water, and attracting local and corporate businesses.
“A land use plan serves as a set of guardrails guiding future development, focusing policy decisions and pointing the way forward to achieve community goals,” said Annette Massari, Cumberland County’s senior planner for the map of Spring Lake. “A well-developed and maintained plan can influence positive change.”
Spring Lake’s current land use plan dates from 2002. For about a year, the county has been working to update the plan to reflect a growing community with different needs than the previous two decades.
After conducting research and hosting community meetings, county planners like Massari have developed a draft plan that will be presented for public review Thursday at City Hall, 300 Ruth St., from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Important community potential”
The county envisions a future for Spring Lake “where there is a thriving Main Street, high-quality housing, economic opportunity, activities for families and residents, and a sense of community,” according to the draft plan released on Tuesday. April 14.
That future could include family entertainment, neighborhood watch groups, landscaping requirements, more restaurants, technical training programs, transportation improvements and more pedestrian access to downtown, according to the draft plan.
Residents were also involved in developing the vision for Spring Lake’s future. Attendees at the previous community meeting noted opportunities such as a community pool, family events, beautification efforts, public transportation and redevelopment, according to the draft plan.
Participants also observed weaknesses such as a lack of restaurants, grocery stores, retail outlets, medical facilities and broadband access, according to the draft plan. They said there was no “coherent city management” and not enough “high quality” housing.
Residents said threats to the future of Spring Lake include high taxes, high water bills, poor roads, traffic, flood risk, vacant properties, litter, deteriorating housing and park amenities and “lack of accountability,” according to the draft plan.
However, attendees also noted strengths such as diversity, pride, natural resources, proximity to Fort Bragg, a “small-town feel” and, most importantly, “significant community potential,” according to the draft plan. .
As a result of those conversations, the county developed a new land use plan intended to “promote flexibility and development,” Massari said.
Massari added that a significant change in this plan from the 2002 plan was the flex zones, which are different zoning districts appropriate in transitional areas between other existing districts.
Flex zones include north and south of downtown, parts of Bragg Boulevard, parts of the Lillington Expressway, and near the Harnett County line. They total 725 acres, or 5.76% of the map.
“The flexibility of this map is intended to allow for development and redevelopment and to evolve as Spring Lake changes over time,” Massari said.
The new plan also includes several municipal by-laws. These include allowing specific commercial activities such as farmers markets and drive-in cinemas, creating more lenient parking requirements with wider on-street options, adopting matter of building materials for uniformity and appearance, the requirement for connecting streets in adjacent subdivisions, and the implementation of a storm water reporting system, according to the draft plan.
“The intent of these suggestions is to also promote flexibility and development, but also to achieve community goals that are not enforceable through the land use plan,” Massari said.
Following Thursday’s community meeting, the county “will implement feedback received to ensure the plan accurately reflects the needs and goals of the Spring Lake area community,” Massari said.
Then the revised plan will be submitted to the Cumberland County Joint Planning Board. If approved, he will then appear before the Spring Lake Board of Aldermen. The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners will have the final say on the plan.
The county expects the plan to be completed and adopted by September, according to Massari.
Journalist Ivey Schofield can be reached at [email protected]