PELETIER — Three months after he first pitched the planning board a proposal to rezone Silver Creek Golf Course for a major residential development, owner Eddie McNeill got his wish Monday night.
Town commissioners, during their monthly meeting in town hall off Highway 58, voted 2-1 for the controversial proposal to rezone the 200 acres from B-1, business, to R-20, residential with minimum lot size of 20,000 square feet.
Commissioner Larry Rhue made the motion to approve the change and got support from Commissioner Dan Taylor. Alice Dunn voted in the minority and Commissioner David Bragg was absent.
Commissioner Bill Norris, who Mayor Dale Sowers revealed Monday night had submitted his resignation from the panel effective March 19, was not at the meeting. The mayor votes only to break ties.
McNeill can now build what he estimates could be up to 220 single-family homes on the property, down from the estimated 335 when he first applied in January for R-15, residential with a minimum lot size of 15,000 square feet.
The next step in the project is for McNeill to submit a subdivision site plan to the planning board. Commissioners and Sowers have stressed that residents will have opportunities to weigh in as that board and the commission considers the plan.
Silver Creek opened in 1986. McNeill, during the January meetings of the planning board and commission, said he closed the golf course in September after damage from Hurricane Florence and decided to revisit a long-delayed idea to develop the property.
McNeill said he envisions homes in the 1,800- to 2,100-square-foot range, but also noted the final number of lots is subject to many considerations, such as determination of wetlands and layout of roads.
The homes would connect to a private waste treatment plant in a corner of the golf course property, according to McNeill, and would get water from West Carteret Water Corp. The development would be screened from adjacent residents’ homes by a 20-foot vegetative buffer.
In February, an overflow crowd of about 80 people packed the 35-seat town hall meeting room for the public hearing and all but McNeill and his attorney opposed the change. Neither was there Monday night.
Speakers during that February public hearing said the project could harm creeks and the White Oak River, dramatically increase traffic and increase drainage problems.
The commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of the rezoning request at its March meeting, which was the first reading, but at least four of five votes was needed to pass on a first reading. On second reading, only a majority was needed. There was no debate Monday among board members.
Norris, who voted with Dunn against the rezoning in March, said in an interview Tuesday that he resigned mainly because he was in his 16th year on the panel, had been on the planning board for a few years before that and wanted to enjoy his retirement.
He was concerned about the rezoning and its potential impact on water quality in the White Oak River and its tributaries.
“We’re not doing enough to protect our resources the best we can,” he said. “I just felt like at this time I was unable to fulfill my duty to the citizens and the surrounding community. I’ve been honored to serve, but I felt like it was time for me to give up the seat.”