Stanly makes changes to minimum lot size requirements

Six areas in the Stanly County 2040 Land Use Plan map were rezoned

ALBEMARLE — At the Stanly County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday night, the board voted 6-1 to approve an amendment to rezone portions of the 2040 Stanly County Comprehensive Land Use Plan Map.

The plan was originally adopted in November of 2022.

As originally requested by the county’s planning board, the ZA 24-03 amendment changed six areas within the county from the Primary and Secondary Growth areas to a Rural Preservation Area, where they will now be required to meet the three-acre minimum lot size requirement.

The six areas of land — Misenheimer, Aquadale, Norwood, Millingport and Hwy. 73./Hwy. 52, Hwy. 24/27 & Hwy. 73, and east of Hwy. 73 — consists of approximately 3,649 parcels and 24,696 acres.

According to the parameters set by the Stanly County Planning Board in a 3-1 vote in favor of ZA 24-03 on June 10, the six areas are based on utility services in the area, the character of the land, and continuing to keep the growth closer to the municipalities as opposed to the more rural areas of the county.

Chairman Bill Lawhon and Vice Chair Mike Barbee joined Commissioners Patty Crump, Brandon King, Trent Hatley and Scott Efird in voting for the text amendment, while Commissioner Peter Asciutto was the lone nay vote against the stricter zoning laws.

Before his failed motion to deny the amendment, Asciutto spoke about government overreach and the infringement on liberties through property ownership regulations.

“We have freedoms in this country, but I just hate that we tend to want to take freedoms away from people. One of those is property rights. Yes, we have farmland out there, but everyone doesn’t have farmland in these impacted areas. People invested money in property and they may have had it for generations. Trying to tell them what to do with their property is not something that I believe in.”

Dozens of concerned citizens spoke up during the meeting’s public hearing section, both in favor of and against the rezoning.

Much of the dialogue centered around the societal costs of creating housing developments at the expense of losing farmland and a rural setting in the county.

“North Carolina is the second most threatened state in the US for losing farmland,” said county resident Gary Hatley, speaking in favor of the three-acre minimum to preserve farms. “The state is expected to lose up to 1.2 million acres by 2040. On average, we lose 55 acres a day right now.”

The conversation around farmland also led to the proposed rights of farmers to use their land as they see fit — even if that includes selling land to a housing developer.

“Let’s say you have 100 acres and you build 100 homes on it, then 100 families would have a place to live. Now, with the three-acre rule, it would take 300 acres to house the same families,” Richfield resident Brian Cody said. “You don’t need three acres to build a damn house on it.”

The commissioners will hold their next regular meeting on Aug. 5 at 6 p.m. in the Gene McIntyre Meeting Room at Stanly County Commons.