State, county propose giving developers more time for plan approval

Published 2:24 pm Friday, July 10, 2009

Developers normally have two years to get preliminary plat approval after master plan approval and two years to get final plat approval after preliminary plat approval. The process of obtaining plat approval, which can include planning, engineering and development work, can be very costly. Developers who are unable to cover the cost could be forced to abandon projects if they miss the deadline.

Polk County currently has about 10 developments, containing a total of almost 1,300 lots, that are in the preliminary or master plan stages and would be affected by the proposed ordinance. Those that have gained preliminary plat approval include Bradley Crossing, Walter Pace Properties, White Oak Plantation, Derbyshire, Jackson Cove West and Carolina Hills at Meadowbrook. Highlands at Walnut Creek, Oats Property, Farms at Mill Spring and Day Industrial Park have received master plan approval.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners recently denied Bradley Crossing a request for vested rights. But after the denial county commissioner Ren´e McDermott made a motion for the planning board to draft an ordinance similar to N.C. Senate Bill 831 (SB 831). SB 831 is currently being proposed to give relief to developers as well as other permit holders. The N.C. House is also proposing a similar bill this sesion, both of which have already passed a couple of readings.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The state says the construction industry and related trades are sustaining major job losses, and the situation would worsen if more projects are abandoned.

The county&squo;s planning board is scheduled to review today a draft local ordinance similar to the current state bills.

If the state or the county ordinances are approved, developers would have until Dec. 31, 2010 to gain final plat approval and would be grandfathered under the county&squo;s requirements at the time of preliminary or master plan approval.

A new ordinance by either the state or the county would mean proposed subdivisions that haven&squo;t gained final approval yet could avoid Polk County&squo;s newest regulations, which establish seven-acre minimum lot sizes for major subdivisions without public water or sewer. The county also has a five-acre minimum lot size for major subdivisions with public water or sewer.

The county planning board meeting will be held today at 5 p.m. in the meeting room of the Womack building in Columbus.