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Northampton approves new comprehensive land use plan

JACKSON – A recently approved comprehensive plan will help serve as a guide in the future for land use within Northampton County.

The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the proposed plan after a public hearing was held here on April 19.

Due to new requirements from the NC General Assembly, jurisdictions across the state must adopt a comprehensive land use plan in order to administer zoning regulations going forward. Roger Waldon, the planning consultant who assisted Northampton County with the project, explained that the comprehensive plan will be used as a guide to help shape policy decisions in the future.

“It was prepared with the help of the comprehensive plan advisory committee that you (the commissioners) appointed,” he explained, noting that the 16-member committee had been working on developing the draft since March 2020.

“This lays out the vision for the county,” Waldon said in his presentation. “It’s not a zoning map, but it is a guide.”

He said the county’s Planning Board recommended the adoption of the comprehensive land use plan. For future zoning requests, the Planning Board will take the plan into consideration as a part of their recommendations to the county commissioners.

The comprehensive plan itself is split into four broad themes: housing, utilities, economic development, and land use. Each section provides an overview of the current conditions and opportunities for improvement in the future.

Key goals in the plan include residential development in areas near towns, small business development throughout the county, industrial development around I-95 and Highway 301, agricultural support, and preservation of the county’s rural character.

In addition to the comprehensive plan, Waldon also presented two amendments for approval. The Zoning Ordinance Amendments and the Subdivision Regulations Amendments are also required by the state to be adopted by local jurisdictions.

“The state-required amendments are almost all technical in nature,” Waldon said, explaining that most of the changes will just be updating the language of the county’s ordinances to match current state statutes.

The most notable amendment change will be to consolidate Conditional Use Permits into the Special Use Permits category.

Following Waldon’s presentation, Board Chair Charles Tyner called for public comments, but none had been submitted and no citizens attended the Zoom meeting to speak.

“This is a good comprehensive plan,” Tyner noted. “This lines up with our strategic plan.”

The other commissioners thanked Waldon and the entire advisory committee and county staff for their work on putting the plan together over the past year.

“It’s a great day for Northampton County to continuously move forward,” remarked Commissioner Nicole Boone.

Boone provided the second after Commissioner Kelvin Edwards motioned to approve the proposed comprehensive land use plan and the two amendments. The vote passed without any opposition.