PEMBROKE — A project that would create more housing for students at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke was given a boost Monday by the Pembroke Town Council.
The council approved a zoning request from the Pembroke Development Corporation LLC to change the zoning on a 10-acre tract of land from a combination of residential, and office and institutional to a multi-family dwelling district. The unanimous voice approval cleared the way for Blue Campus LLC, based in Danville, Calif., to build apartment units and town houses on a wedge-shaped tract of land with its northwest corner at University and Ernest Lowry roads. The tract abuts UNCP property just west of Cypress Residence Hall.
The goal is to have students moving into the 384-bedroom rental complex by July 1, 2019, said P.J. Leslie, Blue Campus’ director of Assets. The complex would have three-bedroom units for students, and townhouses, each with one-bedroom unit on the bottom and two-bedroom unit on the top, marketed to UNCP faculty members.
Plans call for a fitness area, pool, clubhouse and a tutoring facility. The complex’s boundary along Ernest Lowry Road would have mature trees, and possibly a privacy fence.
“I suspect there will be nothing like this within a 50-mile radius,” Leslie said.
The complex, with 160,000 square feet of living space and another 20,000 square feet for amenities, could serve as a recruitment tool for the town, he said.
Plans for Lumbee art to be incorporated into the complex are being discussed, Leslie said.
“We want to make sure we pay homage to the Lumbee Tribe,” Leslie said.
Councilwoman Theresa Locklear asked if the complex’s retention pond could be fenced in. She pointed out that small children live at a nearby mobile home park.
Leslie said that had not been considered because planners thought of the pond as a beautification element.
“Safety will come first,” Leslie said.
The council members approved moving ahead with a plan for lead abatement and renovation of the Vance Street Water Tank. The project comes with a $108,000 price tag because it involves moving an array of communication antennae and related equipment to a water tank on N.C. 711.
Town Manager Tyler Thomas said the cost could absorbed in the current fiscal year budget if money is transferred from other accounts. The council members approved the money transfers in an amended motion to move forward with renovation of the Vance Street tank.
A proposed art project for downtown Pembroke moved forward after council members voted to have UNCP professor Adam Walls provide more detailed proposals for sculptures created by students in Walls’ art class. The three sculptures would be displayed downtown for a one-year period on a rotating basis.
Walls asked the council to donate $300 per sculpture to cover the cost of creating the artwork.
“The town has its own marketing and image plan,” Councilman Channing Jones said. “Would the sculptures fit within the image the town is trying to present?”
Walls said all sculptures would be crafted with the marketing and image plan in mind.
In other business, council members:
— Received an update about Entrepreneurship Incubator activities. They heard how the Incubator recently graduated its first business and how it is working to create a nonprofit group that would help area towns and cities revitalize their downtown areas.
— Approved drafting a resolution in support of the state chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, which supports military veterans. Harold Hunt, commander of MOHP First American Chapter 822 in Pembroke, asked the council members to present the resolution to the state chapter when it meets Saturday at the Holiday Inn in Pembroke.
— Agreed to amend town ordinances to reflect changes to state small-cell wireless regulations.
— Gave the owner of an unoccupied house at 610 W. Fifth St. another 90 days to demolish the home, which has been unsafe. The owner previously had been given 90 days to demolish the home but missed the deadline. The owner will be billed for the demolition if he misses the second deadline.
— Reappointed William Lowry to the town fire department’s Firefighters Relief Fund board or trustees and appointed Rudy Locklear to the board.
Reach T.C. Hunter at 910-816-1974.