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Pinewood Lakes residents speak out against planned apartment complex

Board delays vote until next meeting


HOPE MILLS —  The Hope Mills Board of Commissioners on Monday night voted 4-1 to delay a vote on an apartment complex proposed for Elk Road.

Commissioners Bryan Marley, Joanne Scarola, Grilley Mitchell and Jerry Legge voted to delay the vote; Mayor Pro Tem Kenjuana McCray voted in opposition.

The issue drew a number of concerned residents from the Pinewood Lakes subdivision, which is next to the proposed apartment complex. The Pinewood Lakes development was built in the 1960s and is home to many retirees. 

Board members delayed a vote on the project until their next meeting, saying they want more information about the project from the planning department, specifically information about a proposed secondary exit. 

The board was scheduled to consider and review the development of The One at Hope Mills apartment complex submitted by The Charleston Group on behalf of Fayetteville Christian Schools Inc.

The plan, which began in February, calls for 360 units of a three-story garden-style apartment complex with a clubhouse, pool area, 70 garage spaces and 624 parking spaces.

The grounds also would have two retention ponds.

The main entrance would be on Elk Road, but N.C. Department of Transportation regulations require a secondary egress. The emergency, or secondary egress, is scheduled to connect to the Pinewood Lakes subdivisions via Sycamore Drive through an emergency gate.

Pinewood Lakes residents voiced concerns about noise pollution, lower property values, increased traffic and flooding. But the gate was also a big concern.

Pinewood Lakes resident Denise Schmude did not speak at the meeting, but she said she attended because of her concerns about traffic and noise pollution the complex would bring. Schmude, who has lived in Pinewood Lakes since 2015, said she didn’t want that traffic going through her neighborhood.

“One of the reasons we purchased our house there was that it wasn't densely populated. When you get apartments, you get more people,” Schmude said.

Some people also expressed concern about the retention pond. Some residents told the board that their yards already flood whenever it rains due to a nearby Walmart retention pond. 

“I’m here to oppose the apartments,’’ resident Jason Hulon said. “I truly hope the council can stop the entrance and flooding from coming into our neighborhood. Something is gonna have to be done.

“Everyone sits here and says they are going to fix it and we’re gonna make sure that’s not going to happen, but that’s what you told us about Walmart.”

“Right now Walmart floods my house,’’ Hulon told the board. “My house is the one with 2 feet of water in it every time it rains.”

Hulon told a reporter later that he complains but nothing is ever done. “We need to have a solution for the problem before it exists,” he said.

Wendy Soto has lived in Pinewood Lake for 24 years. She told the board that her property also floods due to the Walmart retention pond, which she said everyone promised wouldn’t happen. 

“With this apartment complex coming in, are we going to get the same thing?’’ Soto said. “Everyone is kind of feeding us stuff —- it’s going to be OK. We’re going to put a wall up, you’re not going to get traffic, you’re not going to get flooding. How are we to believe any of that? I don’t.” 

After residents spoke, Chancer McLaughlin, the town’s Planning and Economic Development director, presented the development review to the board before its scheduled vote.

McLaughlin said his department understood the concerns of the Pinewood Lakes residents and took them into consideration when it laid out the regulations for the developer’s permit requirements.

McLaughlin said nothing would be built or allowed to proceed without the developer first satisfying the regulations required from the town, the state Transportation Department and the Public Works Commission.

McLaughlin also said the plan for the gate that would connect the apartment complex and Pinewood Lakes was only accessed by emergency vehicles.

“No vehicle will ever pass through that gate if it is not an emergency vehicle,” McLaughlin said. 

Bret Andres, another concerned resident, gathered signatures from neighborhood residents who are opposed to the apartment complex and presented them at the board’s last meeting. He presented new signatures Monday night.

At the last meeting, Andres told the board that apartment complexes lower the value of the property around them.

Andres told a reporter that he feels like McLaughlin’s department is “pushing for the developer’s plans.”

“That’s how I feel, and I think most of us think and feel,’’ Andres said. “But I’m happy about tonight’s meeting. There’s strength in numbers.”

McLaughlin, Town Manager Scott Meszaros and the town attorney told the board that the comments were not a public hearing. The town board must legally vote yes if the developer has met all of its requirements. McLaughlin told the board it had and his department recommended approval.

Jason Canady covers Hope Mills for CityView. He can be reached at jcanady@cityviewnc.com. 

Hope Mills, Board of Commissioners, apartment complex, Pinewood Lakes