Garrard planning effort moves forward

August 18, 2004|EMILY BURTON

LANCASTER - Garrard County Planning Commission members sat before their toughest critics Tuesday night during a public hearing at the courthouse here. From behind a table at the front of the courtroom, commission members took extraordinary care in reading the list of goals and objectives they had compiled after listening to citizens' comments during a series of six public meetings.

Despite some squabbling over specific words, the two-page list will remain virtually intact. The suggested amendments given by citizens at the meeting will alter less than five phrases in the document, either by swapping out individual terms that narrow or expand the scope of the goals or removing repetitive objectives.

"It is the intent of the Planning Commission to plan for balanced growth that will adequately protect the health, safety, legal rights and general welfare of Garrard County and its citizens," the document states.

Garrard previously had planning and zoning, but it was later receded, said John Allread, regional planner for the Bluegrass Area Development District. Of the 17 counties in the BGADD district, only four don't have some type of county-wide planning, he said.


At the meeting's start, Chairman Dick Brunson established ground rules for public comments. Beyond raising hands and speaking in turn, Brunson asked the citizens to stay focused on the commission's purpose. Matters of Fiscal Court and the debts owed by the county were not open to discussion Tuesday, though at several points Brunson had to interrupt citizens who strayed from questions specific to the goals and objectives.

"Could we go on please?" Brunson asked the list reader, Jim Flynn, as attendee Becky Pschorr asked for more specifics regarding the agricultural development goals.

Pschorr, who persistently questioned the commission throughout the meeting, said the Commission's goals were too broad and lacked specific directions for implementation.

Brunson continually reiterated that the goals and objectives had been compiled from citizens' suggestions during the previous six meetings. "We'll articulate that (implementation) when we sit down and talk about what's the best way to achieve the county's goals," Brunson said. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the list of objectives only, he asserted, though, at times his own commission members had to be reigned back on topic.

One topic was the goal of planning for the proper disposal of solid waste.

Commissioner Ray Woosley stressed there is a need to help clean up illegal dumps. "A plan might be, if you don't have pick-up service, you show your receipts, so that everybody's not dumping it over the hill and destroying the environment," Woosley said.

Flynn agreed. "I live on a back road, and you want to see garbage? You drive over a bridge, and there's a refrigerator, over there's a dead cow... If there's anything this county needs, it is to be cleaned up."

Tourism at historic sites was addressed by audience member Susan Ledford, who said there are close to 200 in the county, including the county Jail and the Owsley House.

Fiscal Court will have to approve the plan

Throughout the meeting it was also repeatedly stressed that the Fiscal Court would have to approve the plan before it could be put in place.

"The commission does not have absolute authority to implement all parts of the plan," Allread said. He added that, while funding for the plan and its enforcement had to come from somewhere, that didn't necessarily mean more taxes. Fees and fines could supplement the cost of enforcement and implementation, which in the long run would help the county more than hurt it.

"As in any case, what is the cost and what is the benefit?" he asked the audience. "Does the cost outweigh the benefit?"

After the meeting, some commission members talked with citizens in the courtroom, while opponents to planning talked in the parking lot.

"I think there was a certain amount of tension because I do believe that the people of Garrard County want to do the right thing," said commission member Carl Todd. "Only all together can we be a better county, and we need vision as well."

Outside, the mood was not hopeful, but frustrated.

"I don't think anybody answered any question that we asked," said Ron Collins.

"I understand what they are trying to do, but we need to work on the problems we got now," said Kenneth Robinson.

The commission will meet again at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the courtroom to approve the amended goals. The list will then be submitted to the Fiscal Court for approval, possibly at its September meeting.

"I think the county will eventually do well in time," said Todd, "due to the quality of people we have and what they stand for."

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