BY DEBBIE PAGE
debbiepage.iredellfreenews@gmail.com

The Troutman Planning and Zoning Board had another extensive discussion this week about proposed amendments to the Code of Ordinances (CO) and Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) regarding livestock and goat grazing before continuing the items.

Interim Town Planner Jonathan Wells also introduced four rezoning requests expected to come before the board in May. He also provided an update on the hiring progress for the new assistant planner position.

GOAT GRAZING AND LIVESTOCK RULES

Though the Planning and Zoning Board does not usually weigh in on Code of Ordinances changes, Wells asked the board for input regarding this wording since he sought consistency to the new language being proposed in the UDO, which is under the board’s scope of consideration.

The changes will develop a specific set of conditions under which goat grazing is allowed for the purpose of controlling invasive vegetation species and clarify the town’s overall policies regarding the keeping of goats and other livestock in both codes.

Wells contacted six goat grazing herd operators, other municipalities, the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. State University, and Davidson College personnel who conducted goat grazing in an area on campus several years ago to gather input.

Using all this information, Wells developed a set of suggested text amendments to identify the parameters for keeping goats and other livestock in a safe and humane way for both the animals and nearby neighbors.

The CO language establishes minimum standards for sanitation, spacing, acreage, and fencing. Any animals kept for commercial agricultural purposes must be in a classified farmland district and zoned for rural preservation.

This section also makes a distinction between true commercial agricultural land uses and keeping livestock animals as domestic pets.

The board noted several changes, such as eliminating the language which incorrectly extended the ordinances to the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) area over which the town does not have authority.

They also suggested removing language regarding zoning that is more appropriate to the UDO as well as rewriting a confusing section regarding the grandfathering of current fowl or livestock owners and the circumstances under which the grandfathered status could be lost if animals were removed for more than 30 days.

Wells suggested removing the maximum acreage for goat grazing for invasive vegetation as the size of the goat herd and the amount of vegetation varied from job to job. He also said that operators used different criteria for deciding on goat herd size, with no set industry standard established.

At the suggestion of Town Attorney Gary Thomas, penalties were added to the proposed revisions, including a $50 per animal per day penalty for violations that are not corrected. Town officials would notify owners of violations and penalties. Criminal penalties and injunctions could also be used if compliance fails.

The new CO language also defines livestock operations, including boarding, sale, purchase, breeding, and renting of livestock (such as riding stables and academies), which must be situated on at least 10 aces of land.

In addition, the proposed UDO revisions defined the goat grazing period (March 1- November 30), limited the use to twice per year, limited each grazing period to seven days, and required fencing and humane conditions for the animals.

The board voted unanimously to table a recommendation on the items until May, when the suggested changes and editing for clarity will be finalized.

FOUR UPCOMING REZONING REQUESTS

Wells noted an uptick in rezoning requests and activity in the past six weeks, resulting in four rezoning requests expected to come before the Planning Board at its May meeting. Wells introduced members to the upcoming projects in preparation.

The developers of the proposed Winecoff Village at the north end of Winecoff Street will ask for the rezoning of 41.45 acres from suburban and town residential to conditional mixed residential to construct 102 single-family homes.

The site will also require annexation since the property currently sits in the ETJ.

Six participants asked questions of developers in a virtual meeting last week about the type of construction planned and the materials to be used. Wells described the meeting as “routine,” with nearby residents getting answers to their questions.

A request for rezoning for the proposed Westmoreland Village, on the east side of Westmoreland Road south of Houston Road, is also planned for the May meeting. Developers plan to convert this vacant 112.6-acre plot into 241 single-family homes if annexation and rezoning are approved.

Nearby neighbors will be invited to join a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, May 4, at 6 p.m. to ask questions about the proposed subdivision.

Sanders Ridge developers are asking for a rezoning of 23.83 vacant acres for its phase 3 development. The currently approved town residential zoning allows 41 single-family homes on the site. The developers are asking for a change to town residential conditional zoning to expand the project to 63 lots.

This site is located off the north end of Sugar Hill Road (off Houston Road) and the south end of Winford Road (off Weathers Creek Road). This property is already in town limits, so no annexation is required.

Nearby neighbors will be invited to a Zoom meeting with developers to discuss the proposed rezoning on Monday, May 10, at 6 p.m.

Another proposed rezoning is for a location on Eastway Drive near the V-point with South Main Street. The owners want to rezone the property from heavy to light industrial for a possible auto repair facility.

Wells expected all of the documentation and community meetings to be complete in time to present all four projects to the Planning and Zoning Board on May 24 for its zoning recommendations and then on to the Town Council for final consideration at its June 10 meeting.

JOB POSTINGS

Wells said the town planner and new assistant town planner positions are still being advertised. He noted in talking with fellow planners and looking at job posting sites that numerous positions are open, so the competition to get quality candidates is formidable.

After receiving a few applications for the assistant planner position, Wells was disappointed in the number of quality applicants. He has reposted the job on several sites and list serves to hopefully attract better candidates.

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