Zoning complaints in Mercer will go to city and county

February 03, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - Enforcement of zoning laws in Mercer County is now back in the hands of city and county legislative bodies.

Over the past several months, officials from the Greater Harrodsburg/Mercer County Planning and Zoning Commission, Harrodsburg City Commission and Mercer County Fiscal Court have debated the best way to judge complaints about zoning violations.

As it stands now, all complaints will be directed to the City Commission or Fiscal Court. Several alternatives have been discussed since late last year.

One plan, to have members of the zoning panel investigate complaints, was knocked down because the board members proposed to pay themselves for the time spent in an investigation. County and city lawmakers rejected that plan.


Another plan would have the city and county hire a compliance officer who would also assist in collecting city and county taxes. That plan, too, was shot down, so zoning panel attorney David Patrick sought another way.

"Mr. (Doug) Greenburg and I had a conference call with the Department for Local Government," Patrick said Monday night at a zoning panel meeting. Greenburg is Mercer County attorney. The two attorneys were told the planning commissioners should not investigate complaints.

"Anyone who complains should take their complaints to the city or county," Patrick said. "We shouldn't be investigating and hearing complaints. We don't have the personnel to do it. There isn't anyone else to do it but the legislative branch."

The city and county have neither a compliance officer nor an engineer to oversee problems. Asked how many complaints the office receives, Zoning Administrative Officer Stuart Clements said there are about six formal complaints a year, but Commissioner Bob Upchurch said that doesn't tell the whole story.

"You wouldn't know how many people were (driving over the speed limit) if you didn't have people looking for them," Upchurch said.

Commissioner John Goodlett agreed. "If complaints got a response, don't you think you'd have more (complaints?)"

The commission adopted the plan to direct all complaints to the appropriate legislative body. However, Commissioner Robbie Atkinson said complaints should be brought before P&Z to determine if they are valid before sending them on to the appropriate legislative body.

Complaints about violations in the county would go to Mercer County Fiscal Court and city complaints to Harrodsburg City Commission.

No provision for townhouses

Addressing another issue, the commission told Bennett Stenberg and attorneys Tebbs Moore and Linda Houston that the county's comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance have no provision for townhouses. Stenberg wants to build townhouses on a 1.1-acre lot on Dory Drive. Stenberg was seeking an advisory opinion about the structures.

Several neighbors, including Paul Hughes, appeared to oppose the plan. Hughes, the only one to speak, said the streets are too narrow now for two cars to pass and the townhouses would add more traffic to the area.

He said when two cars meet, one has to get off the road, usually onto his front yard. He lives at 166 Kirkwood Road, near the subdivision built by Stenberg several years ago.

The commission agreed to have Moore speak to personnel from planner Kriss Lowry and Associates. The firm is reviewing the commission's comprehensive plan to see if some provision for such buildings might be included.

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