Zoning debate draws full house in Hustonville

January 07, 2004|EMILY BURTON

HUSTONVILLE - Possible planning and zoning ordinances may not be a popular proposal in Hustonville, but it put people in the seats of City Hall at Tuesday night's council meeting, where a packed room had to be reminded of meeting procedures by the county attorney as tempers rose.

Pastor Greg Nimmo, of Hustonville Baptist Church, asked council members to call a special meeting to discuss accepting the county's planning and zoning ordinances in the city.

"Planning and zoning does nothing but help our town and help our community to grow. We need it because we have an influx of people come into our area and our county," Nimmo said.

Currently, Lincoln County Fiscal Court is finalizing planning and zoning ordinances, but many business owners in Hustonville want no part of the project.


Last month, Mayor Larry "Pup" Doss told citizens he would try to get a representative of the county at the council's January meeting to discuss the proposed ordinances. None was able to attend, as the Lincoln County/Cedar Creek Planning and Zoning Commission meets at the same time as Hustonville City Council.

Despite this, townspeople flocked to City Hall for answers, many fighting fervently for or against the ordinances, though little action was taken in the debate by council members.

Business owner and Police Chief Fred McCoy argued with Nimmo against the ordinances.

"The majority of the businesses in town were here in opposition of planning and zoning," said McCoy. He and other local business owners continued to oppose Nimmo as the level of volume in the crowd increased.

Many were worried the ordinances would become extreme and cumbersome, as is the perceived case in Danville. One Hustonville citizen, who owns a Danville company, said he is frustrated with the way planning and zoning has affected his property.

"If I want to do any work outside or inside, I have to go to planning and zoning and get it approved to do anything to that building," he said, asking to remain anonymous to avoid further hassling from Danville's P&Z.

As others began speaking over one another, Assistant City Clerk Lorraine Warner tried to suggest a remedy. "We should go home, make a list, and write down any questions you have about how it will affect your family, and your neighbors."

Warner's suggestion did not deter the discussion between McCoy and Nimmo. At one point, the heated debate spurred City Attorney Carol Hill into crowd control.

"You're not to address the others, you're addressing the council, or else we'll be here till midnight," said Hill.

"Then I am asking the council to call a special meeting to discuss planning and zoning with the county and answer questions," said Nimmo.

After several additional citizens' comments on the matter, Doss said he would "get with the people in Stanford and see when they can meet." A special meeting can be called by the mayor or voted on by the council.

While the meeting inside progressed, people stood outside in a close group on the steps of City Hall and continued the debate, several times growing loud enough to be heard inside at the council table.

Cherie Nimmo stood by her husband, Greg, and endured the freezing temperatures briefly before summing up the discussion and heading for a warmer locale. "He's not going to change his mind, and you're not going to change yours."

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