Friday, May 27, 2022

Bike lanes and pedestrian paths may be coming soon to Pender County

If passed by the Pender County Board of Commissioners meeting on Dec. 3, the amendment will require that "any new construction or significant expansion of an existing structure shall include dedicated bicycle or pedestrian infrastructure."

Pender County will be working with the NCDOT on its planned Hampstead Median Project to build bicycle lanes on a roughly 5-mile stretch of U.S. 17 between Washington Acres Road to Sloop Point Loop Road. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Pender County will be working with the NCDOT on its planned Hampstead Median Project to build bicycle lanes on a roughly 5-mile stretch of U.S. 17 between Washington Acres Road to Sloop Point Loop Road. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

BURGAW — The county’s planning board is seeking county-wide improvements to its bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

A new zoning designation called the Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvement Overlay District (BPIOD) will be brought to the Board of Commissioners on Dec. 3 for approval. If passed it will be added to the county’s overall development ordinance as a measure to add “active transportation infrastructure in strategic areas or along strategic corridors in the county.” 

Specifically, the overlay district will require any new construction or significant expansion of an existing structure along roadways that fall under the district’s regulations to include dedicated bicycle or pedestrian paths or sidewalks, in accordance with county or regional development plans.

Pender County Planning Director Kyle Breuer said such “active transportation infrastructure” will hopefully reduce car traffic by allowing pedestrians and bicyclists safe methods to travel quickly between multiple establishments, avoiding the difficulty of driving from driveway to driveway in traffic-heavy areas like N.C. 17 through Hampstead.

Specific improvements will first be focused in the eastern part of the county south of N.C. 210, according to Breuer.

“It’s not our intent to just slap this overlay on any and all roadway segments, but to have some strategy behind it,” Breuer said.

Areas near Country Club Road and Sloop Point Road in the fast-growing Hampstead area, he said, will be top priority if the amendment is passed, and the county will work with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) on the Hampstead Median project to install sidewalks and bike lanes along the project’s roughly 5-mile stretch through Hampstead.

Costs

Certain difficulties will arise in areas like Sloop Point Road due to frontage roads that already exist, which will require the county to “find supplemental funding to execute those types of projects” in partnership with developers, according to Breuer.

Partnership with the NCDOT on the Hampstead Project means that much of the underlying payment-in-lieu costs will be reduced because the NCDOT is already investing in grading, permitting, and stormwater infrastructure. Payment-in-lieu agreements allow developers to contribute financially to the Hampstead Project, which covers numerous properties, in lieu of actually constructing the required infrastructure on just their own property.

A payment-in-lieu will be obligated for undeveloped properties seeking approval to build adjacent to any roadway that is subject to the new requirements. These are fees based on cost per linear foot that are paid to the county to supplement the overall cost of a sidewalk, multi-use path, or bike lane project.

The amendment also includes provisions designed “to better provide for human-scale, pedestrian-oriented development in the unincorporated areas of Pender County.” This would include ensuring that developments within these overlay districts provide direct, safe access between paths and sidewalks and the main entrance of each development, providing bike racks, bike repair stations, benches, lighting, shade trees, and pet waste stations.

Breuer said the county will assess their existing plans that call for bike and pedestrian improvements, then prioritize those roadways. Such adopted plans include county and MPO-level street and transportation plans as well as the Cape Fear Regional Bicycle Plan.

When asked if Breuer expects any opposition to the amendment, he said the new regulations will be a direct cost to property owners when they develop, but that the community, in general, supports such infrastructure.

“And the county and NCDOT will establish a partnership to cover the majority of all the costs for that project,” Breuer said.

The ordinance fits in with the county’s overall goal of linking with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail network by building a path from Sloop Point Road to the Harris Teeter in Surf City along a power line easement, giving pedestrians and bicyclists direct access from N.C. 17 to Surf City — a town that is also focused on building up its sidewalk infrastructure, according to Breuer.


Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com

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