PENDER COUNTY – Last week the Pender County Planning staff was made aware of land clearing activities occurring on a parcel of land in Hampstead and multiple cemeteries were located on site as well.
“Our staff received a “preliminary plat” application for a residential subdivision for this property months ago, but it is currently pending at this time,” said Travis Henley, Pender County Planning and Community Development Director. “Pender County has not issued approval of the preliminary plat for this site, which is required prior to commencement of any land development activities. Therefore, the property is in violation of the Unified Development Ordinance.”
Henley noted that Pender County has through the years attempted to document cemeteries across the County, and this list is continuously updated as new cemeteries are found and documented.
“One cemetery on-site had been previously documented by the County, but planning staff were alerted to another that was not,” said Henley. “Staff immediately reached out to the surveyor and put the surveyor in contact with the local citizen to determine the exact location of the additional markers.
Per conversations with the surveyor and the applicant, the location of these markers has been documented.
Additionally, the applicant had additional surveyors on-site Monday, March 15, to attempt to determine the presence of any additional unmarked graves.
The planning staff anticipate receiving the results of this survey in the coming days.
Pender County’s planning staff engaged local historians as well as partners at the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, North Carolina Department of Cultural and Natural Resources, and the US Army Corps of Engineers to further verify compliance with all applicable historical and environmental rules, including but not limited to all rules regarding cemeteries. This is in addition to previous work through the Technical Review Committee.
“The county will work with these partners and the applicant to ensure all cemeteries and graves are documented and preserved throughout the development process,” said Henley. “This includes ensuring that all grave locations and protective measures are documented on all submitted plats and that compliance is achieved with all appropriate local, state, and federal regulations in accordance with the Unified Development Ordinance and all other applicable standards, as we do with all projects submitted to this Office.”
Site work shall not be permitted to continue until a preliminary plat that meets all applicable standards, coupled with all relevant permits and approvals from outside agencies, is approved by Pender County. The county has not in any way permitted or allowed site work to occur on this parcel at this time. In addition to communicating directly with the applicant to cease all work, Pender County will be using all appropriate remedies in accordance with Article 13 ‘Enforcement and Penalties’ of the Pender County Unified Development Ordinance to rectify this situation.