BURGAW – The Pender County Planning Board has tabled indefinitely a rezoning request for hundreds of acres proposed to be a sand mining site in Hampstead.
Board members unanimously voted in a special called meeting Monday to pull the matter from its April 7 meeting at the request of Jamestown Properties, the Atlanta-based land management company that owns the property.
Jamestown representative Russell Weil explained in a March 10 letter to Pender’s Interim Planning Director Travis Henley that the company wants more time to look at its options for the land.
“We would like to take the time to fully consider the comments received at the public meeting and explore all our potential options,” Weil wrote.
More than 150 people attended an informational meeting Jamestown Properties hosted in February at the Hampstead Branch Library about its proposed sand mine.
The company is asking for a conditional rezoning of a little more than 560 acres from planned development to rural agriculture for the purposes of mining sand on about 175 acres in Hampstead, an unincorporated area in eastern Pender County.
Hundreds of property owners, parents and teachers have signed petitions opposing a sand mine at the site.
Jamestown’s land abuts residential properties, a high school and middle school and, a portion of Holly Shelter Game Land.
The company originally intended to develop the land into a mixed-use of more than 800 single-family homes and commercial space, a plan that fell through after the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization filed a “protected corridor” map for the North Carolina Department of Transportation to build a bypass to ease the heavy congestion on U.S. 17 through Hampstead.
Because of the way that corridor cuts through the property, only 30 residential units could be built on the land, according to the developer’s rezoning application.
In his letter, Weil said the company would like to continue its request until August and present to the planning board in September.
“Given the up-in-the air context of everything right now in terms of large public gatherings my recommendation to the board is that the request for the rezoning is tabled indefinitely and as part of the motion direct staff and the applicant to work together and to bring the case forward at a point in which it’s ready to be heard by the planning board instead of tabling it to a date certain,” Henley said.
After voting, planning board member Richard “Dee” Hartman read down a list of questions he said he wants the company to address when it makes its presentation to the board.
Those questions include the anticipated amount of truck traffic going to and from the site, number of trucks traveling to the site per day, life expectancy of the mines, buffer setbacks, and effects on local wells and schools.
“I think those are questions we all have for sure,” Henley said.
If the land is rezoned, the developer will have to obtain an operating permit from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.
Permit applications are reviewed by the state air quality, water, parks and recreation divisions as well as state wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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