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Garrard debates planning ... and zoning

March 09, 2004|JIM LOGAN

LANCASTER - It seems you can't discuss planning in Garrard County without talking about hog farms and junk yards.

The county's Planning Commission would rather talk about the future of schools and roads, but residents invariably want to talk about zoning, which, apparently, can't be done without reference to live pigs and dead cars.

So it was Monday night in the library at Garrard County High School, where the commission met to solicit public input on the comprehensive plan it will eventually write and submit to the Fiscal Court. The panel, comprised of unpaid volunteers, wants to know what residents think the county should look like in the coming decades. Schools, infrastructure, recreation, industry, housing are the hoped-for fodder for conversation.

But zoning was the main topic of conversation.

"This county is running wild right now," said Fiscal Court Magistrate Joe Leavell. "You can put anything you want wherever you want."

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Enter hog farms and junk yards.

In trying to explain the purpose of zoning, which typically involves land-use restrictions on property, Leavell noted that zoning could prevent one's next-door neighbor from putting in something particularly offensive - like a hog farm.

Some in the audience, which included about a dozen people, wondered if that would include junk yards. Hog farms stink, it was noted, but junk yards are an eyesore.

For others, though, zoning is seen as an infringement on property rights.

"I think that's why people come to this county - there is no planning and zoning," said Mike Dotson.

And that, said the panel members, is the problem.

Commissioner Ray Woolsey said the county is paying, literally, for decades of no planning.

He noted the schools in Lancaster are too small to accommodate growth, but a lack of foresight has kept them stuck in an area where expansion is impossible. Building new schools will cost the county hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it should, he said, because of a lack of planning.

"Planning done correctly should be something that saves the county money," said commission Chairman Dick Brunson.

Garrard is only one of four counties in the Bluegrass Area Development District that doesn't have a comprehensive plan, said John Allread, a regional planner with Bluegrass ADD.

Without one, said Leavell, Garrard will be at the mercy of outside developers who could put anything they want wherever they want.

"Dumps are chomping at the bit to come to Garrard County," Leavell said. "They won't bring jobs, just their junk."

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