Grave sites disturbed during housing development project in Hampstead

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Crews clearing a plot of land in Hampstead for a housing development project have disturbed multiple grave sites. The Pender County Planning and Community Development says they were made aware of the situation last week.

“Our staff received a “preliminary plat” application for a residential subdivision for this property months ago, but it is currently pending at this time,” Travis Henley, Pender County Planning and Community Development Director said. “Pender County has not issued approval of the preliminary plat for this site, which is required prior to commencement of any land development activities. Therefore, the property is in violation of the Unified Development Ordinance.”

Henley noted that Pender County has through the years attempted to document cemeteries across the county, and this list is continuously updated as new cemeteries are found and documented.

“One cemetery on-site had been previously documented by the County, but planning staff were alerted to another that was not,” Henley said.

He says staff immediately reached out to the surveyor and put the surveyor in contact with the local citizen to determine the exact location of the additional markers.

“On Wednesday, March 17th, 2021, Pender County Planning and Community Development issued a Final Notice of Violation and Stop Work Order upon the referenced parcel in accordance with Article 13 ‘Enforcement and Penalties’ of the Pender County Unified Development Ordinance,” Henley said.

In a news release on Friday, the county says this violation is specifically in regard to the land clearing activities that occurred without an approved “preliminary plat,” which is currently pending at this time.

“As specified in the notice of violation and stop work order, all land clearing activities are to cease and remain ceased until a Preliminary Plat is approved by Pender County Planning and Community Development,” the release states. “Furthermore, the notice of violation also required removal of all equipment from the site as well.”

Staff are still awaiting the results of the aforementioned survey commissioned by the developers and will continue to await the receipt of all necessary documents required in order to issue approval of the pending Preliminary Plat.

In the meantime, the county says staff will continue to coordinate with all local, state, and federal partners to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations and standards, including the State Archaeologist’s Office.

“This situation is evolving rapidly, and staff has and will continue to monitor the site to ensure compliance and will continue to provide updates to the community as they are available,” the release stated.

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