Foster Creek first affected by Columbus’ longer approval process

Published 3:52 pm Monday, April 6, 2009

Foster Creek Preserve, a planned 700-lot development in Columbus is the first subdivision required to adhere to the town&squo;s new, more stringent process for master plan approval.

Foster Creek held an onsite tour of the property last Saturday and two workshops with the public on Tuesday as part of its efforts to adhere to the town&squo;s requirements for submitting a master plan.

Columbus Planner Daniel Hallstrom says the town requires the new process for all new, phased major subdivisions. The town last year imposed an eight month moratorium in order to create new ordinances and amend current ones to help regulate and control growth.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Foster Creek was annexed into the town in 2007 and the 1,068-acre property caused several&bsp; residents to express concern about the town&squo;s aquifer and erosion issues, especially following the development of Chocolate Drop, also now in town limits.

Part of the town&squo;s work during the moratorium was the approval of an amendment to its subdivision ordinance requiring&bsp; new provisions for master plan approval in an effort to allow the public to be more involved in the process.

Foster Creek is the first to meet these requirements, which include developers meeting with the town, submitting an application including an environmental inventory, then a site visit of the property open to the public and workshops where developers review the project and give the public opportunity to ask questions.

Tuesday&squo;s afternoon and evening workshops drew a total of about 20 people. Foster Creek and town officials gave an overview of the project and answered several questions from area residents as well as recording residents&squo; suggestions and concerns. Also part of the town&squo;s new requirements is that developers must create a report of the workshops and send the report to all who attended.

The next step in the new process for Foster Creek will be to submit a master plan to the town with the report summarizing the public workshops. The town&squo;s planning board and town council will then jointly meet to consider the submitted plan. The plan then may need to be revised and resubmitted based on council and planning board suggestions.

The town will distribute the plan to a technical review committee, made up of several officials and agencies such as Duke Energy, the fire department and N.C. Department of Transportation.

Following the committee&squo;s review, the town planning board will make a recommendation to town council, and town council will either approve or deny the master plan.

Following master plan approval, more detailed plans are developed, and the town will later approve a preliminary plat.

Foster Creek officials estimate that its master plan should be approved by the town sometime this fall, with the preliminary plat taking another six to nine months and development of the property beginning at the earliest in the summer of 2010.

The town&squo;s earlier process to approve a master plan was less stringent. A developer filed an application with the subdivision administrator and submitted a master plan. The town administrator then reviewed the master plan and submitted it to the planning board, which held a public hearing and approved or denied the master plan.