Bertie tinkers with ordinance

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 11, 2006

WINDSOR – The Bertie County Subdivision Ordinance (BCSO) remains a work in progress.

Due to current wording in the ordinance, the Bertie County Planning Board, at its Nov. 30 meeting, said they feel hardships are being placed on families who wish to deed lots to their immediate family members.

From that meeting, Planning Board members forwarded a recommendation to the Bertie Board of Commissioners, one calling for family exemptions to the current wording of the BCSO.

The Planning Board’s amendment explained that a family exemption would constitute, “the division of land by any method of transfer from a grantor to a grantee (or grantees) who is a member of the grantor’s immediate family and (will use the property) solely for the residential use of the grantee(s).”

The definition of immediate family includes father, mother, children and grandchildren as well as grandfather or grandmother.

At their Dec. 4 meeting, the Bertie Board of Commissioners discussed the Planning Board’s recommendation. There, Bertie Planning Director Traci White informed the commissioners that the exemption did not include any wording in regards to the grantor providing any right-of-way easement for access to the property. That omission concerned Commissioner Wallace Perry.

“In the past, I’ve dealt with families involved in discussions over land,” said Perry, the county’s former Sheriff. “Sometimes, everything runs smooth and an agreement is reached, but there were other times when that wasn’t the case.”

Perry said he favored the family exemption amendment, but urged that its wording include the grantor providing an easement for access to the property in cases where that property is not situated adjacent to a state road.

Lloyd Smith, who serves as board attorney to the commissioners, mentioned that lending institutions require “descriptive easements” in order for the borrower (in cases where a residential construction loan is needed) to ensure they have a way to access and exit the property.

County Manager Zee Lamb agreed, recommending that access easements needed to be included in the ordinance amendment. He added that such an amendment also needs state legislative action.

A motion was approved that directs county staff to include the family exemption amendment, complete with easement requirements, in the BCSO and to request legislative action to amend the definition of the BCSO to include the family exemption ordinance.

Additionally, the amendment will require the grantor to complete paperwork in order to certify that the land transfer is occurring between immediate family members. That certification form calls for confirmation that the property is not for resale to persons outside the immediate family and that the lots must comply with all applicable local, state and federal requirements, including zoning, flood damage prevention and wastewater disposal regulations.