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Stanfield Council to add town planner

At its regular meeting Oct. 4, the Stanfield Town Council unanimously voted to begin the job search of hiring a town planner.

Mayor Kevin Barbee recommended the process.

Commissioner Jerry Williams motioned to have the vote, which was seconded, and approved by all the commissioners except Councilman Larry Sides, who was was absent at the meeting.

“In regards to trying to make sure that we don’t have miscommunication and that we’re consistent in our interpretation of our ordinances, planning and zoning requirements, our attorney has suggested that we should hire a planner,” Barbee said.

Barbee mentioned many nearby towns use planners to examine goals and make comments based on the town ordinances.

“When it comes to interpreting legalities, we need someone who is well versed in what they are,” he said. “I would like to say all of us sitting here are confident and capable of understanding our ordinances but for the most part, we’re not. We don’t do it every day and we’re not trained in it. The best way to try to do it right is to find someone who knows how to do it.”

The council already has a few people in mind for the job that will tentatively pay on a fixed rate of $30-$50 an hour. Stanfield has previously used an attorney to assist the board with decision-making, however, using a planner is a cheaper option for the town.

Because the council already charges planning and reviewing fees, the town planner’s salary will be covered and therefore cost local taxpayers nothing.

However, Commissioner Rick Williams had some slight concerns about the upcoming change.

“If the planner reviews our current planning, zoning and ordinances, and says that we need to enforce this or that, are we going to address the issue of enforcement?” Williams asked. “That is what’s going on in some our municipalities right now.”

He continued by referencing the “strong ordinances” the town of Stanfield has already enforced on property owners.

“The way I’m seeing it is that we’re not relinquishing our authority — basically we’re paying someone to come in here and look at a case-by-case issue and say this is what shall be done,” Williams said. “Is that neutralizing us from having a discussion about it?

Commissioner Jerry Williams followed that up with a similar opinion.

“There are some (ordinances) that are idiotic and should have never been put in there,” he said. “This is a small town and bedroom community.”

The council also voted to make a resolution to support the Stanly County quarter-cent sales tax referendum, a move that has been reciprocated by nearly every board in the county thus far.

The Stanfield Board of Commissioners will hold its next meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 1.

Jesse Deal is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.