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Moore County Commissioners tabled subdivision planning amendments to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) on Aug. 15. The board will vote on Sept. 5.

Arguments against the amendment on stormwater treatment plans led a two-hour discussion. That amendment would remove public and commissioners’ input while helping developers avoid potential financial losses. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) would be the sole overseer of the stormwater treatment plans.

Vice Chair Frank Quis said NCDEQ looks at topography and stormwater drain from 30,000 feet.

During the public hearing of the meeting, Chairman Nick Picerno started to say the public speakers were a mob. He backtracked his statement and added, “mob mentally.” He directed a police officer to escort Carthage resident Carol Parker after she called out from the audience that they were not a mob.

“It was a sad reaction to people who were eloquent and educated. The only person riled up was Chairman Picerno. When he lashed out to developers that speakers were a mob, I said, ‘These people are not a mob,’ Carol Parker said in a phone call to Sandhills Sentinel. “I spoke out of turn, but I would do it again because I love Moore County.”

“I apologize for dishonoring your family,” said Picerno to Michael Parker, spouse of Carol Parker, at the end of the hearing.

The public hearing to consider amendments to Chapter 19 Subdivisions and Chapter 20 Definitions of the Moore County UDO included stormwater drainage preliminary plans being changed to final plans to save developers money.

“Don’t throw stones,” Planning Director Debra Ensminger said about being the messenger for amendments pointed out by developers during past Union Church Road subdivision hearings.

The planning board approved each amendment in a work session. Learn more on the video, beginning at the 1:17 mark.

Opposers urged waiting on a vote for further research, concerns about changing topography, political influence on environmental protection regulations allowing permits, and flooding.

Supporters said efforts into infrastructure could be lost when developers do not even own the land yet.

Philip Picerno with LKC Engineering, and nephew of Picerno, said the ballpark cost for design plans and state permits, including NCDEQ, was between $85,000 and $100,000.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Philip Picerno said about placing developers’ potential financial loss as a priority.

“I don’t like people in government being generous with your money,” Carthage resident and attorney Matthew Parker said about the NCDEQ being in power over property rights and water.

“Ask the Village of Whispering Pines, who had serious stormwater problems,” Quis said.

Matthew Parker listed arguments for commissioners, with their request, for each amendment.

Concerns about county planning spiked after the Aug. 1 meeting when Ensminger had requested a public hearing for a planning conflict, and it was denied.

The conflict is that major subdivisions are allowed by the UDO in areas zoned Rural Agriculture 40 (RA), RA20, and as RA Urban Agricultural Service Boundaries (RAUASB). While the 2013 Land Use Plan strongly discourages major subdivisions in RA40, RA20, and RAUSB, it does not deny major subdivisions.

Feature photo: Moore County Board of Commissioners. Courtesy photo.

~Written by Sandhills Sentinel journalist Stephanie M. Sellers; BS Mass Communications and Journalism, MFA Creative Writing.

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