Compromise has the City of Fayetteville and Pinewood Forrest on the same page with an amended development agreement to proceed full-speed ahead.
“I appreciate all of us working together. This is our community,” said Mayor Ed Johnson at Tuesday night’s special called meeting, noting the steep learning curve for both sides working on a project unlike any they had seen before. “When you can sit down and compromise, that makes it a little better.”
The fine-tuning of the agreement clears the way to really ramp up work on the 1,300 residence, 234 acre mixed-use development. Future tweaking, as long as it is a variance of 10 percent or less from code, can be handled by working with City staff.
“We really would like to go back through staff rather than go before the planning commission or City Council again,” said Bill Foley with Pinewood Forrest, “so that we can again move the process through. We’ve been hung up in the past with wording (and other issues).”
Mayor Johnson called it a reasonable request, and Director of Community Development Jahnee Prince noted that a 10 percent administrative variance already falls under her discretion.
Prince also lauded the cooperation of staff and Pinewood Forrest.
“We had asked representatives from Pinewood Forrest to go through our code and proactively look for anything that might cause them problems because, as you know, if it’s not spelled out in the development agreement it falls to our code,” she said. “They did a great job of going through our code and coming up with a list of items for us to discuss. Staff had several meetings with people from Pinewood Forrest, and we worked out a lot of things, and we worked out even more (at Monday’s work session).”
The biggest issues to be resolved revolved around fire safety within the dense development. Fayetteville Fire Chief Alan Jones said that his hands were tied in many respects by fire safety codes.
“I just want to make sure that you understand that as the fire chief all I can do is to (uphold) the code requirements,” he said.
At Monday night’s work session, the sides struck a key compromise related to the width of the alleyways between homes and the use of sprinklers. At issue was the ability to protect the homes in the event of fire with the residences so close together. The proposed width of the alleys with one-way flow will meet the requirements for fire department access to not need in-home sprinklers. Alleys with two-way flow will be too narrow to meet the requirements and will require in-home sprinklers.
“We have different jobs here, and I think both sides did their job well,” said Jones. “I think that we’ve come up with something everyone can live with and be happy with quite frankly.”
Jones foreshadowed the coming needs for his department.
“We are definitely growing. Three years ago we didn’t have a lot of the growth out on 54. Pinewood Forrest was still conceptual. We are definitely becoming more urban,” he said. “When Pinewood Forrest first came, I said, regardless of whether there’s sprinklers or not, it’s going to increase the demand on our resources.
“We need to make sure that we take some steps to keep up with that. In three years we have not really been able to add those resources we need to protect and respond to these areas.”
Mayor Johnson assured that they will be prepared to make the necessary moves to ensure the public’s safety.
“You have the ear of Council, as well as the City Manager and finance director, as we look at our budget.”
Council unanimously approved the amended Pinewood Forrest Development Agreement.