"In the end, the magistrates are the only ones to vote on it," said Mike Dotson, who owns the BP station at U.S. 27 and Ky. 34 and is leader of the anti-zoning group.
Kenneth Robinson, who acted as moderator for the gathering, said petitions in a few county stores had received 710 signatures against zoning and just 78 in favor. The petitions asked, "Do you want a Planning & Zoning Board telling you what to do with your land? When you can develop your land?"
"We don't want the magistrates to do planning and zoning like they done the hospital," said Ron Collins, referring to Garrard County Memorial Hospital, which closed last summer after years of financial problems.
Becky Pschorr, who lives on Nina Ridge, asked if there was a way to "impeach" the magistrates.
Joe Leavell looked back at her, smiled and said, "You trying to do me a favor?"
Leavell, Hester take brunt of anger
Leavell and Walter "Tiddle" Hester, who have been outspoken in favor of some planning and zoning, took the brunt of the crowd's anger.
Leavell initially declined to get swept up in the comments, saying he was "here to listen."
But after being pummeled with questions and accusations, he tried to explain why he thought planning and zoning are, in general, reasonable methods to deal with the county's growth. They should protect people's rights as well as restrict them, he said.
"It's a two-sided coin," Leavell said. "Let's be fair about it."
The pro-zoning magistrates had at least one ally in Jerry Bogie.
The retired firefighter and Garrard native said planning and zoning can ensure balance between the rights property owners - especially in cases where one person's actions harm others.
"The problem I'm seeing here is what amounts to people doing their own thing and not answering to anyone," he said. "Where do your rights start and where do my rights end?"
A woman in the crowd responded, "At the property line."
For many, zoning was pocketbook matter
For many in the crowd, zoning was a pocketbook matter. As one man said, "It's a ploy to get more money."
Karri Keefel alleged that the county Planning Commission had received $16,000, presumably in operating expenses. "Where is the money? Are you out on the golf course?"
The key to holding the magistrates accountable, she said, is tracking the money.
"We can't make the magistrates vote the way we want, but we can make them put their tails between their legs and tell us where they put the money."
Dick Brunson, chairman of the Planning Commission, said the panel of volunteers "gets no compensation, no budget, no reimbursement. We have no budget and we have no money."
One man suggested that zoning was un-American. "We're not communists," he said.
Another said he had a relative on the planning and zoning board in another county and claimed it was rife with corruption.
"It's dollar after dollar under the table, and that's what it's all about," he said.
An argument that zoning is unnecessary distraction during Iraq war
Robinson, noting that U.S. troops are fighting and dying in Iraq "for our freedom," argued that zoning was an unnecessary distraction: "We don't need this problem at this time."
Ray Phillips said he commutes to work in Georgetown, a 100-mile round-trip drive. He makes the long trip, he said, "so I can do what I want with my land."
He blamed the push for planning on "outsiders" who come in and want to bring their restrictive laws with them. "What we need is a way to enforce the restrictions that are already there," Phillips said.
For their part, the magistrates took the crowd's strong feelings largely in stride.
"That's the way it's been all along," said Larry Teater.