Garrard magistrates get earful in planning debate

July 13, 2004|EMILY BURTON

LANCASTER - A group called the loud minority opposition by planning commission supporters sounded more like the loud majority at Monday's fiscal court meeting, at times offering a sideshow to those participating in the debate.

Parading in and out of the front row, the opposition created a tense atmosphere as supporters of the planning commission attempted to speak. In the end, the commission was not abolished as many had hoped and will be tenuously allowed to finish its intended purpose: Create and recommend to magistrates a comprehensive plan for the county - though with two more members in a reorganization aimed at fair representation.

Citizen Becky Pschorr spoke at length to the magistrates, presenting them with a petition of 270 people against planning and zoning. Magistrate Larry Teater, from whose district the names came, said he would not vote on dismissing the commission until he had read all of the list.


"I think the job of the magistrates is to do what the people of their district want," said Pschorr to the audience. At several points she received applause from the front row.

When Pschorr was told the commission would not be abolished that night, she asked magistrates to instead reorganize the 8-member body to equally represent the five magisterial districts. At the time, Teater's district held four representatives while the remaining had only one.

"They were equalized as much as possible because nobody else would take them," said Judge-executive E.J. Hasty.

The motion to have two commissioners from each district, while Teater lost two, was passed.

But the discussion against planing and zoning heatedly continued, despite the insistence of the court that zoning was an issue. The commission was formed to create a comprehensive land plan, with zoning not even being discussed, said Hasty.

"Where did zoning come from?" asked Hasty with slight impatience.

Opponents of the commission kept interrupting Peel

Several times during the meeting opponents of the commission had to be asked to quiet down as they interrupted county planning supporter Barry Peel.

"My only concern here, is that this process is going to stop," said Peel of the possibility of disbanding the commission. If the county doesn't create a plan, he warned, the state will force it on them in less than 10 years.

Peel also said a study of the county land use would only abolish ignorance, not property rights. The front row of the court began heckling Peel and speaking over him as he talked about what he said were misinformed and unfounded reasons people had against a comprehensive land plan.

"Don't let the people cut him off," County Attorney Jeff Moss told Hasty.

"Hear, hear, he's doing the talking," Hasty continuously boomed over the audience.

Among the consequences of not allowing the commission to make their comprehensive plan, one that the court would have to approve before it came into effect, Peel listed the lack of desirable development, the growth of bio-hazardous dumps, hog farms and the dismal future for the county's children.

"People say, 'Well, you're just trying to scare us.' You're absolutely right. You ought to be scared to death at the prospect of what the county will be like in 20 years," said Peel.

Entire front row walked out

At that point, the entire front row of the crowd walked out.

"We don't have to listen to this," mumbled Billy Conn on his way out.

"That's probably the finest compliment I've had, and I'm an old man," said Peel as he continued.

Conn and the rest of the group would later re-enter the court, if only temporarily.

Moss also spoke to the grumbling crowd, trying to dispel the rumors of a county dictatorship over land use.

"What this is doing is taking your money, your taxpayer's dollars, and is saying, this is where we want to be five, 10 years from now... Let them come up with a document first," before it is torn to pieces said Moss.

"Lets let them finish the task they're set out to complete, and then sit down and discuss it," said Peel.

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