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County Commissioners learn about Planning Department:Planning Board

By: Erin Smith

The Bladen County Board of Commissioners met on Monday night and learned about the Planning Department and Planning Board and the duties and responsibilities of each.

Bladen County Planning Director Greg Elkins told the board that in the early years of the planning department and planning board, time was spent developing ordinances. It is the job of the planning department staff to enforce the ordinances created.

Elkins said the Planning Board meets every third Tuesday.

The department is responsible for issuing zoning permits, reviewing subdivision plats, reviewing flood plains, and working with realtors, surveyors, contractors and developers.

The planning department is responsible for code enforcement. The staff will investigate complaints and enforce existing ordinances and recommend amendments to ordinances, said Elkins.

He said the Board of Adjustment hears appeals and grants variances.

Elkins reviewed some the activities the planning department and planning board have been involved with over the years. These projects include the creation of a Land Use Planning, strategic planning, and a comprehensive transportation plan.

The planning department is also excited to be working with the Cape Fear Resource Conservation and Development. Elkins said this board is working to perform a Cape Fear Regional Drainage Study which will identify areas where drainage problems are occurring in the Cape Fear Region. Elkins said the project has already been funded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation with a grant for $50,000. He said other grants have been applied for but the group has not yet learned whether or not they will be funded.

Elkins said that all of the counties involved were tasked with providing areas of concern to be studied.

Another project the Planning Board has been involved with is countywide zoning which was adopted October 21, 2002.

He said the planning board issues permits. Elkins said lately the planning department has been involved in issuing permits for Solar farms. Currently, about 1500 acres are permitted for use as solar farms.

Some other projects the planning board has been involved with include the creation of a Subdivision ordinance a manufactured home park ordinance and a wireless communication facility ordinance.

The board also hears and makes recommendation on rezoning issues.

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