Stanly planning board approves Ridgecrest subdivision

Published 5:10 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2023

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At Monday’s meeting of the Stanly County Planning Board, the board voted against, then reversed its decision and unanimously voted to approve a Ridgecrest subdivision.

The request was submitted by Burleson Development, LLC, to approve a 28-lot major subdivision of a parcel at 20239 Running Creek Church Road. The property is 2,300 feet from the Red Cross town limits.

Bailey Emrich, a planner with the county’s planning office, presented the request to the board.

At first, the motion failed 4-2, with Dr. John Eckman III and Joel Mauldin voting for the motion and David Underwood, Kevin Brickman, T.J. Smith and Michael Williams voting against.

However, after a long recess, the board voted unanimously to reconsider the item, then voted 6-0 to approve the preliminary plan requested by Burleson Development.

Emrich said the parcel of land was 20.8 acres and in a residential/agricultural (R/A) zone. She said each lot would have public water from a main on Austin Road and individual septic systems, along with a proposed ecological preservation area on 1.7 acres on the northern side of the property.

She also noted the properties surrounding the development are single-family developments zoned R/A, and the property lies in a rural preservation area of the county’s land use plan. Primary growth areas are to the south of the parcel, while secondary growth areas are to the property’s eastern and western sides.

Burleson’s site plan, Emrich said, scored 105 points on the construction criteria points scale. The score included 30 points for public water, 20 points for engineered storm draining, 15 points for ecological preservation and 10 points each for street lighting, trees, landscape and design and a homeowners’ association.

Emrich noted N.C. Statute 160D, which states “decisions on approval or denial of preliminary plats may be made only on the basis of standards explicitly set forth in a subdivision ordinance or a UDO (unified development ordinance).”

Underwood asked if the request was put in before or after the current land use plan was completed. Emrich said it was after.

Burleson spoke at the meeting, saying the plan “meets all of the criteria in the subdivision ordinance and your zoning ordinance.” He said preliminary soil evaluations have been completed “and look great.”

He emphasized the request was a by-right request and not a rezoning request.

Five citizens spoke to the board against the request, citing reasons such as the land use plan, concerns over traffic and crime and preserving rural life.

Two citizens expressed the idea of not wanting Stanly to be like Huntersville and Harrisburg. As of 2022 per the Census Bureau website, Huntersville’s population is 63,035, while Harrisburg is 19,822.

“I make a motion we approve it since he met all the criteria, but I want to open it up for discussion,” Underwood said.

Underwood said he was concerned the subdivision went against the land use plan.

“If we start now, what are we going to do later…if we allow that, it connects to the next one, so our growth area is no longer a growth area,” Underwood said.

Emrich said “the land use plan is a recommendation, but the zoning ordinance is a legally-binding law. There is a difference between the two.”

Eckman said the land use plan “is a suggestion,” likening it to recent debates over cellphone towers.

“As long as they check all the boxes and met the criteria, the state said we have to approve,” Eckman said.

Since it was a by-right decision, Emrich said, approval of the request would not go in front of the county commissioners.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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