Commissioners delay action on ordinance definition of substantive expenditure

Published 9:09 am Tuesday, November 14, 2023

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The Stanly County Board of Commissioners rejected a recommendation from the county’s planning board regarding the definition of the phrase “substantial expenditure.”

Bailey Cline from the county’s planning office presented the resolution to the board.

The definition for substantial expenditure relates to the start of construction by an owner or developer, in terms of establishing a common law vested right. What this would mean for home builders is once a dollar amount for a project is reached, the project would have “substantially commenced.”

Once a project has that status, it would not be subject to any changes in zoning laws or ordinances passed after the project was approved and given a permit, per North Carolina General Statutes.

The statute does not specify a dollar amount, and the Stanly planning board made the recommendation to change the zoning and subdivision ordinances to reflect an amount. The planning board recommended 10% or more of the total cost of the project would be “sufficient to establish substantial expenditure.”

Cline said the definition would allow planning director Bob Remsburg to make such a determination after review expenditures for a particular project. Those decisions would potentially be subject to appeal by the Board of Adjustments.

The definition recommended by the planning board reads: “Substantial Expenditures – a common law vested right is established if the substantial beginning of construction in which the owner/developer would suffer undue losses if required to comply with any new requirements created after an application for property improvement has been accepted. To establish a common law vested right, expenditures shall be 10% or more of the total estimated cost of the project as permitted. Expenditures of time, labor, and material as well as expenditures of Packet Pg. 114 money or actual construction may be considered in establishing a common law vested right.”

Cline said Remsburg has had two developments come in which met the two-year mark for a vested right, but noted the county did not have a definition of what “work” was and had been done.

If for some reason a project had less than 10% done, the matter would have to go back before the planning board.

Vice Chairman Mike Barbee said he would like to “nail down” what actual costs would be considered for the amount, and he would like the amount to be one-third of the project’s cost, or 33.3%.

Commissioner Bill Lawhon asked if the two-year standard for starting work for a subdivision was still in effect. Cline said it was, adding if the percent mark was met there would be no time for completion of the project.

When asked by Commissioner Patty Crump if any projects currently were under construction with the new verbiage, Cline said there were not, to her knowledge.

Barbee moved to send the definition back to the planning board to further define the term, and to add a 33.3% mark rather than 10%.

Commissioner Trent Hatley seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

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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