Pembroke ponders ‘innovation district’


By Sarah Willets - [email protected]



PEMBROKE — The Pembroke Town Council on Monday night threw its support behind a proposal for the town to become “an innovation district” as part of a North Carolina State University program.

According to James Woods, director of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Entrepreneurship Incubator, the Innovate NC program is looking for five towns to join its effort to boost innovation outside of the Research Triangle Park and North Carolina’s other metropolitan areas.

“Their goal is to widen North Carolinas innovative ecosystems,” Woods said during the council’s regular meeting.

Although the town took no action, council members agreed to pass a resolution of support. The application is due Aug. 17 and the selected cities are expected to be announced on Sept. 4.

As part of the program, NCSU’s Institute for Emerging Issues would connect the town with major companies, map its assets, help it secure grants and produce marketing materials on area businesses. For example, video profiles of local “innovators” would air on UNC-TV.

In exchange, the town would have to hold monthly innovation council meetings and host other participating cities for tours, which Woods touted as a networking opportunity. Joining the program requires a $15,000 contribution, which could come from donors.

In other business, the council paved the way for private streets in Pembroke.

The council voted unanimously to amend its Unified Development Ordinance to allow private streets.

Town officials stressed that while the amendment has implications for the new Hunter’s Run development, which has asked to have a private road so it can install a gated entrance, Monday’s action does not authorize any particular plans to proceed.

“We just didn’t have anything in our UDO to address that,” Mayor Pro Tem Channing Jones said.

Town Attorney Gary Locklear said the town would not be liable for repairs to utility lines under a private street; development owners would have to agree to take on that responsibility. The town would require that emergency services have around-the-clock access to the private road.

The amendment does not apply to existing developments.

In other business, the council:

— Amended the town’s Unified Development Ordinance, at the request of Allen Dial, to allow car washes in the central business district.

— Voted, at the request of Johnny Mercer, to rezone land behind the Family Dollar as Highway Business District.

— Scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 8 on amending the town’s Unified Development Ordinance, at the request of Tony Jacobs, to allow a zero lot line duplex on Garden Street. A zero lot line duplex sits on two lots, with the shared wall on the property line between them.

— Scheduled a public hearing for Sept. 8 on amending the town’s Unified Development Ordinance to comply with state statutes on receiving public input for zoning ordinance amendments.

By Sarah Willets

[email protected]

Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974 or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.

Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974 or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.

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