Pender County passes amendment allowing for developers to begin clearing and grading earlier in the zoning process

The Pender County Board of Commissioners meeting on August 15, 2022
The Pender County Board of Commissioners meeting on August 15, 2022(WECT)
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 1:16 PM EDT
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PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - On Monday, August 15, the Pender County Board of Commissioners approved a proposed amendment to the zoning code allowing for developers to clear land earlier in the process. Though developers can start clearing and grading sooner, they still must meet the same requirements which existed before the ordinance passed.

Local developer Trask Land Company proposed the amendment and County Planning Director Travis Henley presented it to the planning board on July 5. The new ordinance makes a distinction between final zoning approval, which allows for structures to be built, and a clearing and grading permit, which allows for clearing and grading. The planning board reccomended the amendment with a 3-2 vote; Margaret Mosca and Ken Teachey were the opposing votes.

The primary argument in favor of the amendment is efficiency: developers don’t have to wait as long to start preliminary work. Henley says the developer would still be required to get their site plan approved by county staff, get an erosion and sedimentation control permit from the NCDEQ and meet the tree mitigation requirements: planting two trees for each significant tree removed.

“Significant tree” includes live oak and other trees that meet certain size requirements, but the amendment also adds any trees planted as part of a previous tree mitigation plan to the list.

“It’s called a clearing and grading permit because it allows someone to start the clearing and grading process; it is not an approval to clear cut a piece of property, just like our current development approvals are not approvals to do that. It doesn’t change anything in terms of what somebody is allowed to do, just when they’re allowed to do it,” said Henley.

The Board of Commissioners found themselves without any strong objections and unanimously approved the amendment.

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