Sign of the times appears in Garrard County

June 07, 2004|JIM LOGAN

LANCASTER - The big board on U.S. 27 is, for better or for worse, a sign of the times.

It sits just off the highway near Forks of Dix River Baptist Church and reads, "For Sale NO RESTRICTIONS." Placed by businessman Ron Collins recently, it announces the availability of a little more than 12.5 acres, for which he's asking $200,000.

But here in Garrard County, where an effort to draft a comprehensive plan stirred up fervent opposition to planning and zoning, its message is open to debate.

Collins, who has been a vocal leader of the anti-zoning movement, said the sign simply notes the county's lack of regulatory interference. Potential buyers will find that attractive, he said.


"There's a lot of people that want to buy something and they don't want it restricted," said Collins, who owns a driving range on U.S. 27 just north of Ky. 34.

For the advocates of planning, Collins' sign represents the future. Without the protections of some planning and zoning, they say, the county is open to undesirable development.

"If you ask my opinion, that's just an example of things to come," said Fiscal Court Magistrate Joe Leavell. "We'll have signs everywhere saying, 'Anything goes.' Nothing against Mr. Collins."

John Dixon, a member of the county Planning Commission, said the "no restrictions" advertisement "just shows we need some. There are people trying to sell and they're using that as a positive. That may be positive for buyer, but not necessarily for the county in the long run."

Collins says zoning is for people who can afford nice houses

To Collins, doom-and-gloom predictions are plain wrong. Zoning, he said, is just an effort to control growth in a way that benefits people who can afford nice houses, while penalizing business people and lower-income working people.

The intent of zoning, he said, "is to do away with mobile homes" in the county. "Everyone can't have a $300,000 house."

Collins' land, which he's owned for "four or five years," is 484 feet wide and 1,200 feet deep, he said. Originally rolling country with a pond at one end, it has been graded level and surveyed for three tracts of 4 1/4 acres.

The southern boundary is cut away from the land on the other side, leaving what looks like a earthen scar. Robert Gregory, who owns the land to the south, said the cutaway eventually will begin to erode and require a retaining wall.

Collins said potential buyers have inquired about putting a business in a front lot and a home at the rear. And he dismisses worries by some that the "no restrictions" advertisement invites something particularly vile to settle on the land.

"The state ain't gonna let you come in and put in a dump there," he said.

Ultimately, however, talk about the land settles into a debate over zoning, which places restrictions on land use.

Collins came to Garrard County 25 years ago from Jessamine County, in part because of the lack of zoning here.

"I'm strictly against zoning in any shape, form or fashion," he said.

He argues zoning invites corruption and discourages growth

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