Todd Olson, the chief executive officer of Raleigh software company Pendo, says he has withdrawn plans to develop the southern end of Topsail Island.
“We are extremely disappointed to get to this point after two years, but we do not believe that a successful outcome is possible based on the current process,” said Olson in a statement to Business North Carolina.
Olson said there are three options for the property, known as The Point: a permanent conservancy by the community or town, a larger scale development by a professional development group, or a low-impact private development like the one his family proposed.
The proposal was for single-family homes on 24 acres of a 150-acre area. The plan included six single-family dwellings, access roads, a swimming pool and cabana, a maintenance building and garage, a beach shelter, a gazebo and uncovered deck, and an elevated pier with six boat lifts.
Olson said he signed a letter of intent with the NC Coastal Land Trust to establish a conservation easement on at least 80% of the land. He also took feedback from both residents and town officials and updated his plans and drawings to reduce the impact on the land to less than 4% impervious surfaces.
“We have listened, iterated, and stayed patient through a very tedious and lengthy process that unfortunately still remains far from complete two years later,” said Olson in his statement.
Topsail Beach, located south of Surf City, has a population of about 460 full-time residents. The proposed development was opposed by some in the community who believed it would harm the environment. Olson expressed frustration in dealing with local politicians.
“Despite our repeated requests for time to discuss the details of our rezoning request and come up with solutions together, the Commissioners refused to meet with us one-on-one and routinely passed us off to the Town’s staff and external planning consultant,” he said in the statement. “Meanwhile, we understand the Commissioners directly conversed with members of the community who opposed our plans. This one-sided behavior has led to confusion and an unending set of proposed conditions.”
The land that Olson wanted to develop is currently zoned as a conservation district, and it’s located within an inlet hazard and Coastal Barrier Resources Act area.
A nonprofit called Conserve The Point has said it’s interested in acquiring the property, which went on the market in 2019 for $7.9 million.
The Topsail Beach planning board voted unanimously against conditional rezoning back in May.
“We invested the time, money, and energy to find a solution to protecting an area of the world we love,” said Olson. “But solving problems requires collaboration, which the Town appears to have been unwilling to do. We have no choice but to withdraw our application.”
Pendo is among the state’s most promising technology companies. Its market value has been estimated to be more than $2.5 billion. Olson cofounded the company in 2013.