Lake Norman & Mooresville

New rules for hearings applauded

Statesville and Troutman officials moved this month to eliminate rezoning hearings that resemble court cases.

Statesville forwarded a proposal to its planning board; Troutman adopted an amendment to its Unified Development Ordinance.

Eliminating “quasi-judicial hearings” for zoning cases would bring an end to marathon sessions such as the 25-hour hearing held in May on Maymead Asphalt's application to build a second Statesville plant.

Elected officials from both municipalities embraced the move.

“I like the flavor of this change,” said Statesville council member Cecil Stallard at the Aug. 4 meeting. Troutman Mayor Elbert Richardson said the change would make the process “less cumbersome and more informative.”

Board members from Statesville and Troutman had previously indicated they weren't comfortable with the strict rules they must follow in the quasi-judicial hearing. They're prohibited from discussing aspects of a pending case with residents prior to the hearing. In essence, they are asked to act as both judge and jury.

Under the new system, elected officials would be free to discuss pending applications with residents.