The Lee County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 Monday not to change the current process for approval of mining and quarrying activities.
Commissioners Robert Reives, Cameron Sharpe, Mark Lovick and Bill Carver voted to keep the process as it is. Voting against were Kirk Smith, Andre Knecht and Arianna Lavallee.
By opting to keep the process as it is, requests for rezoning and special use permits pertaining to mining and quarrying activities will require approval by the commissioners, according to Marshall Downey, director of community development.
Earlier this year, the commissioners asked the planning staff to simplify the review and approval process for mining and quarrying, Downey said.
That resulted in the recommendation to allow the activities, subject to approval of a special-use permit by the Board of Adjustments, in areas zoned for Residential Agricultural, Light Industrial and Heavy Industrial.
The proposal called for removing the Special Overlay District for mining, which stipulated certain steps that were to be followed.
By removing the overlay district, Downey said, it would eliminate the need for legislative action — approval by the commissioners as the county’s governing body.
Approval would require only a special use permit from the Board of Adjustment. Appeals would go to Superior Court instead of the Board of Commissioners.
However, certain requirements included in the current ordinance would remain in effect such as minimum lot sizes, buffers and distances from facilities such as schools and churching as well as a private residence, according to the Planning Board proposal.
The commissioners had the choice of following the Planning Board recommendation or leaving the application process as it is.
That means any rezoning or special-use permit request would still require approval by the commissioners.
“The reality is if someone wanted to do this, they would have to come before you all for approval,” Downey said.
Reives questioned why residents would want to give up their right to appeal a rejection by the Planning Board to the commissioners.