Garrard citizens complain about zoning, land-use restrictions

March 23, 2004|JIM LOGAN

LANCASTER - It took a while, but zoning and the potential for land-use restrictions once again took center stage at Monday night's Garrard County Planning Commission meeting at the Garrard County Health Center.

After about a half-hour of recommendations from the audience on how the county should plan for the future, zoning took over.

"I moved to Garrard County in 1995 'cause there wasn't no planning and zoning," said Tom Chesnut, who runs an excavation and concrete construction company out of his property.

Chesnut said he left Fayette County so that he could pursue his business without intrusive zoning. Since then he's built a company of 14 employees, some of whom earn $40,000 a year.


A clearly irritated Chesnut told the panel that he'd received four phone calls from people telling him that others in previous commission meetings had complained about the "junk" on his property.

"My little set of junk helps pay them salaries."

After the meeting, Chesnut said he believed planning and zoning would eventually strangle small businesses in the county with increasingly oppressive regulations and fees.

"Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile," he said. "There's a lot of problems in Garrard County, but I don't feel planning and zoning is the way to take care of them."

Others, however, suggested that planning was needed to keep the county attractive and livable.

While Chesnut was denouncing zoning, Fred Simpson stood up and said his daughter had to be kept inside some days because she reacted badly to smoke from garbage fires on his neighbors' property.

A woman in the largely anti-zoning audience asked him, "Why don't you move?"

The meeting began on a positive note after Dick Brunson, the commission's chairman, said the panel would not discuss issues it had no control over.

"We have nothing to do with the hospital debt and we're not going to discuss it tonight," he told the crowd of more than 50.

Brunson's declaration came after last week's meeting in Paint Lick turned ugly, with members of the audience heatedly denouncing the state of the county's finances, closure of the hospital and other issues unrelated to the volunteer Planning Commission.

Brunson also read a statement noting that commission is not a regulatory body and has no control over county finances. He urged the audience to attend Fiscal Court meetings and suggested the magistrates meet at night to encourage greater public participation.

In another statement, Roger Miller, the panel's secretary, said the commission was not trying impose its will on the public.

"Our purpose is not to tell anyone what to do," he said. "Our desire is to form a comprehensive plan that would not restrict, but rather protect the rights of Garrard Countians. We want the least amount of regulation necessary to do this."

Initial public comments focused on keeping the county clean and attractive.

"I find our road sides are awful," Ruth Montgomery told the commission.

One solution, she said, would be to have "penalties for people who throw anything and everything out their car windows."

Fred Simpson said he was in favor of mandatory garbage pickups. He's the only resident along his stretch of Cherry Creek Road who puts out garbage, he told the commission.

"I know they've got garbage," he said, "because I've seen it along the side of the road."

The Planning Commission was created by the Fiscal Court to draft a comprehensive plan for the county that would consider such issues as housing, infrastructure, education, recreation and industry. The plan would be submitted to the magistrates for consideration, tweaking and adoption.

The panel is seeking input from residents in a series of meetings in the five magistrates' districts. The next meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday at the Buckeye Fire Department.

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