Commissioners set to review county’s development ordinance


From staff reports

An advisory board charged with examining Caldwell County’s 79-page development ordinance was reactivated Monday following unanimous action by county commissioners.

The county had originally planned to hold workshops to revise the ordinance as it pertains to subdivisions and subdividing lots a couple of years ago before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which derailed those plans.

“I’ll just go on the record and say that I think it’s time to do that,” Caldwell County Judge Hoppy Haden said of re-examining the development ordinance. “It’s not just about how we define private gravel roads, but also easements on land grants. We want to seek a clear definition with full knowledge about anything that we do. We’re trying to take a holistic view of a lot of things, so obviously, as time goes on you have ordinances that need to be addressed and we’re at that point.”

Commissioners Ed Theriot, Barbara Shelton and B.J. Westmoreland also expressed support for reviewing and potentially updating the ordinance.

“This was a priority of mine and other commissioners when I first got onto commissioners court,” said Theriot. “When I first came onto the court in 2016 we didn’t even require water as a prerequisite to lots being subdivided. We’ve made some good progress, but I think it’s time we bone up on what we can and can’t do because I’d like to push it to the limit what we can do as far as amending the ordinance goes.”

Shelton expressed distaste with what she said was an unnecessarily complicated process for families to subdivide their land to allow family members to build homes.

“Kids can no longer afford to go out and buy property, so their families want them to build homes on their land and they have 10 acres or more,” Shelton said. “According to the state, they don’t need an exemption letter. So we need to fix our failed subdivision ordinance. We need to get this done and we need to start it now.”

Westmoreland added that he wanted to see the board examine the process for approving subdivisions as well as the ordinance itself. He said he believed the “sheer volume” of requests was hampering the efficiency.

Haden reminded commissioners that funding for a position to assist Sanitation Department Director Kasi Miles had been approved and that completing the hiring of that position would improve the process. He also said tackling the challenge of continuous variance requests that can be headaches for landowners was a task that required a lot of care. 

“I don’t think we’re going to get all of this done in one meeting,” Haden cautioned. “We have to be careful (with making subdividing land easier) because if a developer wants to come in and divide a plot into one-acre lots, whatever we do for one we have to do for all.”

After meeting, the board will present ordinance revision recommendations to the court.

In other action, commissioners voted to leave the burn ban on after it was reinstated on an emergency basis following high winds.

“We still have a lot of dry grass in the county after the freezes and there is a huge fuel load,” Haden said. “We’re going to get a minimal amount of rain today and then not much going forward.”


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