Stanly commissioners designate nearly 4,000 land parcels as rural preservation areas

Published 9:55 am Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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Nearly 4,000 parcels of land in Stanly County are now in the rural preservation area of the county land plan after a 6-1 decision by county commissioners at Monday’s meeting.

A public hearing lasted close to two hours Monday night, with many citizens speaking for and against the proposed amendment.

Many of those speaking for the amendment spoke about preserving farmland, while those against were realtors and contractors who spoke about affordable housing.

After a quick discussion, Commissioner Peter Asciutto moved to deny the amendment, but his motion failed to receive a second.

Commissioner Scott Efird then moved to approve the amendment, seconded by Mike Barbee. The amendment passed 6-1 with Asciutto voting against it.

After the meeting, Asciutto said the board’s decision did not surprise him “with the way the commission has tended to vote against almost anything that has anything to do with growth.”

Asciutto noted the areas voted against had county water and sewer.

“If we recruit more industry, where are the people going to live? A lot of this impacts not just the big developers, but it impacts the Mom and Pop builders, and people who own land, not just farmland,” Ascuitto said.

Farmer Curtis Furr said he “agreed wholeheartedly” with the decision. He said it showed commissioners “care about the people in Stanly County. There is a lot we could do to help out.”

In his remarks in the hearing, Furr offered to help spread the word about the county’s regular and enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts. The two programs were passed by Stanly commissioners in April 2016 and allow farmers to enter a conservation agreement with the county for a 10-year period. The districts can be renewed every 10 years.

Farmers can have up to 25% of sales come from non-farm products, can receive higher percentages of cost share funds from the state’s Agriculture Cost Share Program and get priority when applying for state grants.

Chris Puckett, president of the Central Carolina Association of Realtors who spoke in the hearing, said in the short term he understood “where the citizens are coming from.”

“In the long term, it’s going to drive up housing prices, a secondary cause and effect,” he said. “You’re restricting what people can do with their land. You’re restricting the value of their land, financially harming them, and you’re restricting the buildable land.”

Adding additional properties to the rural preservation designation of the land plan first came up publicly at the June 3 Board of Commissioners work session. County Manager Andy Lucas informed the board that Bailey Cline, county planning director, was working on an amendment for the county’s 2040 land use plan.

The amendment focused on adding approximately 3,649 parcels in six areas in the county. Of those parcels, 3,154 currently are in the residental/agricultural (RA) district, and are subject to the three-acre minimum lot size.

The proposed amendment included approximately 439 in Aquadale, where maps prepared and given to commissioners noted 77% of the area around the community is zoned residential/agricultural (RA).

Other areas included 578 parcels on N.C. Highway 24-27 and N.C. Highway 73 stretching from Canton Road across the southern part of Albemarle over to Southside Road just off U.S. Highway 52. According to the map, approximately 85% of the selected area is zoned RA.

Another area with 323 parcels, 91% of which is zoned RA, included Stony Gap Road and U.S. 52 S. down to Deer Haven Road, and an area with 1,706 parcels in the Millingport area included parts off U.S. 52 and N.C. 73.

Parcels next to other municipalities are included in the changes, including Misenheimer (218 parcels, 92% RA) and Norwood (385 parcels, 85% RA).

The Stanly County Planning Board unanimously voted to recommend the changes to the land use plan at its most recent meeting.

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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