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County to hold hearing on development moratorium as prelude to introduction of zoning to Snow Camp

Alamance County’s board of commissioners has agreed to move forward with a development plan for the Snow Camp area that would, for the first time, introduce zoning to this rural, unincorporated community.

During a regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, the commissioners unanimously agreed to proceed with the creation of a “small area plan” for Snow Camp that would tentatively impose four zoning districts on the county’s southwestern corner. The commissioners also agreed to hold a public hearing next month on a potential moratorium that would halt certain kinds of development during the six months that the county’s planning department believes it will take to fine-tune the small area plan.

The commissioners agreed to press ahead with this plan, in part, to assuage the many Snow Camp residents who’ve been clamoring for tighter development rules ever since an out-of-state mining concern received a permit from Alamance County’s planning department to set up a quarry in their community. The proposed small area plan won’t have any effect on this quarry, which recently obtained a state-level permit from the N.C. mining commission. It would nevertheless restrict future industrial or commercial development to areas that are appropriately zoned.

The basic outlines for the proposed small area plan are already incorporated in a countywide land development plan that the commissioners signed off on last fall. The land development plan, which makes various non-binding recommendations for unincorporated parts of the county, includes a subsection with suggestions for the Snow Camp area. This area, which is more or less tantamount to the Snow Camp fire district, covers a chunk of Alamance County’s southernmost reaches that lie to the west of Lindley Mill Road. The land development plan’s recommendations for this quadrant include a four-part zoning scheme that would tentatively slate all of the land in the area for either agricultural, rural residential, industrial, or low-impact commercial use.

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The commissioners agreed to proceed with this small area plan after Tonya Caddle, the county’s planning director, briefed them on the various zoning proposals that appear in the county’s land development plan. Caddle told the commissioners that, in addition to the small area plan for Snow Camp, the county’s planning board has also endorsed another suggestion that calls for overlay districts in other fast-growing areas outside the county’s cities and towns. The commissioners chose not to immediately proceed with these overlay districts after Caddle informed them that it would take roughly six months just to firm up the small area plan for Snow Camp.

County planning director Tonya Caddle explains the proposed zoning areas for the Snow Camp area to county commissioners on Monday, February 1, 2021.

“It’s a step by step process and it’s not really something you can pull the trigger on,” she told the county’s governing board. “Once something is written, it will go before our planning board, and they will make a recommendation to you before you make your decision.”

Before the county’s planning department starts to formalize the small area plan, the board of commissioners will presumably impose a moratorium on development in the affected area. The commissioners have agreed to hold a public hearing on this six-month cessation during an upcoming meeting on March 1.

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