After hearing four hours of testimony from the proponents and opponents of MHK Ventures’ request for Planned Unit Development-Hamlet [PUD-H] rezoning for the proposed Pine Forest Golf Club, the Moore County Board of Commissioners decided to suspend a quasi-judicial public hearings until their March 1 meeting. After all public hearing testimony is reviewed, the Planning Department is expected to bring its recommendations to the Board’s March 15 regular meeting.
Concern that Pine Forest might threaten the headwaters of Nick’s Creek headwaters was raised by opponents of the rezoning request during the initial January 18 Public hearing on the matter and continued to be a primary topic of discussion during the hearing Tuesday night. Commissioner Larry Caddell, a former Mayor of Carthage, which depends on Nick's Creek for its water supply, has withdrawn from consideration of Pine Forest, because he felt he could not rule impartially rule on the rezoning due to his intimate knowledge of and history with the creek.
At the January 18 hearing a number of Pine Forest opponents argued that the developer could legally take water from Nick’s Creek if it were needed to irrigate golf courses or common areas, and the County’s hands would be tied on the matter.
Riparian rights at issue
At Tuesday night’s meeting the Planning Department offered a definition of "riparian rights," which allow a landowner to make “reasonable use” of water adjacent to his property as long as it does not “injure” the rights of downstream riparian owners. Chairman Nick Picerno asked if Lake Auman in Seven Lakes, which is the headwaters of Drowning Creek, was similar in nature to Nick’s Creek and Carthage. Public Works Director Dennis Brobst could not confirm any similarities, but did say that during a drought a “minimal release” of water is required, as outlined in a permit for Lake Auman.