Friday, 04 December 2020 12:59

Legal complaint filed against Richmond County in rezoning decision

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Legal complaint filed against Richmond County in rezoning decision RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM— Two Richmond County families and municipalities have filed a legal complaint against the county, challenging a recent rezoning decision by the Board of Commissioners.

The complaint (attached below) was filed Dec. 3 in Richmond County Superior Court and the plaintiffs are listed as Chad and Lisa Gardner, Lonnie and Hope Norton, the Town of Dobbins Heights and the City of Hamlet.

In a 4-2 vote during a special meeting on Oct. 8, the Richmond County Board of Commissioners approved a compromise on a rezoning request from CSX Transportation on a piece of property owned by the company off Marks Creek Road north of Hamlet.

This was after hearing concerns from the Nortons and the Garners.

At the time, commissioners were not told what was planned for the property.

Citing the UNC School of Government and state statute, Economic Developer Martie Butler said it is “highly recommended … that a governing board NOT be made aware of any particular plans for a site when considering and voting on rezoning,” because they have to take in all considerations of what types of industry that particular zoning regulation allows.

International Tie Disposal, a biochar company, is planned for that site and has applied for a synthetic minor air quality permit from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Division of Air Quality.

The complaint reiterates concerns from both families regarding pollution, financial loss and effects on the environment, among others.

“If the Rezoning is upheld, it will adversely affect the use and enjoyment by the Individual Plaintiffs of their properties and will thereby adversely affect their property values,” the complaint states.

It goes on to say that the families’ chicken farms and apiary will be adversely affected.

Hamlet and Dobbins Heights officials are concerned about the effect on the local water supply and air quality.

The complaint asks the court to void the rezoning ordinance, award the plaintiffs attorney fees and other costs, tax the costs of the action to the defendant, and grant any other relief the court sees fit.

County attorney Bill Webb could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.


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