spring lake logo The Spring Lake Board of Aldermen on Monday night, Aug. 22, approved the Spring Lake Land Use Plan, which will be used to guide growth in the town over the next several years.

Addie Corder, a planner with the Cumberland County Planning Department, presented the plan. The plan helps create a vision for the town and its municipal area of influence area, which includes unincorporated areas toward North Fayetteville and is bounded by Harnett County and Fort Bragg.

“This area plan services 12,500 acres and serves a little over 12,000 residents,’’ Corder said. “It is also unique in that it is landlocked by Harnett County and Fort Bragg.”

Corder presented the overall vision of the plan, which included the theme “A destination not a drive-through” and a mission statement, which outlined a thriving Main Street, high-quality housing, economic opportunity, activities for families and residents and a sense of community.

Five categories were broken down for goals to include downtown, housing, quality of life, economic development and public services.
She pointed out demographics, which included a younger, more diverse community, and a large number of renters in the town.

“Something that makes Spring Lake unique from other areas in the county is that the area is very renter driven. Seventy-nine percent of units are renter occupied,” said Corder who added that the county average was 48% renter occupied.

Corder said 41% of residents were in the armed forces.
She also outlined the process for the Spring Lake Land Use Plan, which began in May 2021 and included several community engagement activities and online outreach efforts.

One of the engagement activities took place at the community kickoff meeting last October, where more than 100 residents participated. The planning staff conducted a SWOT analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats at the meeting, which helped identify feedback.

“To highlight some of the feedback we got, for a strength, people noted that there was significant potential in this plan area with vacant buildings and vacant land to be developed and redeveloped,’’ she said. “Some threats that people identified were high taxes, high water bills and road connectivity issues.”

Corder said that after the community kickoff meeting, more residents, economic development professionals and business owners participated in stakeholder meetings and plan review sessions. The website, which was a new addition to the county planning process, received more than 5,000 visits for a range of engagements, including gathering information on land use and background, answering values surveys and submitting other feedback to planning staff on the draft plan.

Other key elements included future land use maps and classifications and an overview of the new flex areas, which are a new land use classification for Spring Lake and Cumberland County. Flex areas allow for a wider variety of zoning districts in areas that are undeveloped or underdeveloped and allow for areas to be more “flexible” when looking at development. Planners would still consider the use of conditional zoning to ensure the new use is in harmony with the existing and surrounding uses.

Planner Anastasia Nelson said the plan concentrated more on increasing density and infill than the last plan in 2002.
Alderman Marvin Lackman thanked residents who provided input for the plan and attended the various sessions throughout the past year.

“There are a lot of recommendations that were taken from the citizens’ concerns, their voices,’’ he said. “For the citizens out there, your voices were heard.”

The adopted plan will influence zoning decisions in Spring Lake for the next several years. It also included recommendations and policies the town can use to help shape development and redevelopment and a list of grant resources that can possibly be used to fund various projects within the plan.

No one spoke in favor or against the land use plan during a public hearing, and the motion to approve passed unanimously by the board. For more information on the land use plan, visit Spring Lake Area Land Use Plan (arcgis.com).

In other business, the board appointed Patricia Hickmon as the interim town clerk. Hickmon, who has been employed by the town since 2003, serves as the inspections clerk and executive assistant in the Inspections Department.

Hickmon also updated the board on pending site and building plans and the 28 businesses that have opened in Spring Lake since July 2021. Two businesses that have submitted site plans include the coffee shop 7 Brew for the former Biscuit Kitchen site on Bragg Boulevard and Dunkin’ Donuts, also on Bragg Boulevard.

Interim Town Manager Joe Durham and Hickmon serve as administrative officers who can approve town site plans, subdivision plans and other non-residential site plans in compliance with Chapter 160D of the N.C. General Statutes and the Chapter 42 zoning ordinance for the town.
The board met in closed session under the N.C. General Statutes for personnel at 5 p.m. and voted to come out of the closed session with no action taken right before the regularly scheduled meeting started.

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