Stanly County commissioners table group home facility text amendment

A text amendment to Stanly’s zoning ordinances regarding group care facilities came before county commissioners at Monday’s meetings.

Bailey Emrich, a planner with the Stanly Planning and Zoning Department, presented the item to commissioners.

Emrich said the amendment “was brought upon by individuals who are looking to put (a group home) in the county.”

She presented the findings of the planning board, which voted unanimously to approve the amendment, stating group care facilities would have to have a special use permit from the county.

A group care facility would be amended to include “a nonprofit or any facility licensed by NCDHHS (North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services) under NCAC 27G.” The definition would further apply to facilities open “for the purpose of assisting more than 20 residents recuperating from the effects of drugs or alcohol, runaway children or battered individuals or to provide shelter and support for those who are handicapped. These types of facilities are not an alternative for incarceration but serve primarily for counseling and rehabilitation.”

Eight acres would be the minimum lot size for a facility, whether short term (30 days or less) or long term.

The residentia/ agricultural (R/A) district allows for nursing, rest or convalescent homes without acreage restriction.

Stanly’s planning board recommended the amendment with a stipulation. Each facility’s application would be reviewed by the Board of Adjustments, who “would have much leeway in adding requirements to ensure that any group care facility does not have a negative impact on the area.” Currently, group care facilities are not allowed by right or special use permit.

Vice Chairman Mike Barbee said “any number” of reasons could be used to have a group care facility. He asked Emrich if “any consideration has been taken for the people that live around these areas?”

Emrich said each facility’s permit would come before the Board of Adjustments, which “serves as a quasi judicial board. In order for a group care facility to go into the area on a parcel of eight acres or larger, it would have to be approved by the Board of Adjustments.”

Neighbors within 100 feet would be notified and a sign would be posted on the property.

Commissioner Brandon King mentioned group homes in the Albemarle city limits, saying the city is “going through some issues. I know where they had a zoning ordinance that they couldn’t have a group home within a quarter mile of each other. Turns out, they ignored their own ordinance. Could something like that play into effect with us on this?”

King further asked if someone had 100 acres if they would be able to put 10 group homes on the property. Emrich said under the existing ordinance it could happen “because it’s not an added requirement to this.”

No one spoke at the public meeting, but Barbee moved to table the item to the next regular meeting July 10 “in order to get more clarification on this.” Commissioner Peter Asciutto seconded the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.