Planning debate continues in Garrard County

September 14, 2004|VICKI STEVENS

LANCASTER - Nearly a hundred people packed the Garrard County Courthouse Monday night expecting the Fiscal Court to vote on planning goals and objectives that have stirred controversy in the county for months.

Dick Brunson, chairman of the Garrard County Planning Commission, submitted the final draft to the court, but instead of calling for a vote on the 3 1/2 page document, Judge-Executive E.J. Hasty tabled the matter and set a special meeting for 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at the courthouse.

Hasty said the delay will give him and the county's five magistrates time to study the proposal before voting.

The goals and objectives are intended to help the fast-growing county plan for orderly development, but opponents say they are a step toward implementing countywide planning and zoning that will infringe on property owners' rights.

Garrard County had countywide zoning for a short time more than 25 years ago but abolished it because of complaints from citizens that it was not being evenly enforced, according to Magistrate F.C. "Cedar" Foley, who has served on the Fiscal Court for 27 years.


The new goals and objectives drafted by the Planning Commission deal with agricultural, residential and economic development; tourism and historic preservation; infrastructure such as roads and water and sewer service; transportation; community facilities; and natural resources management.

Several citizens spoke out

Although action on the proposal was tabled Monday night, several citizens spoke out on the issue, either because they had asked ahead of time to be on the agenda or because they used the time on the agenda that normally is allotted for citizens' concerns. At times, the meeting deteroriated into negative comments directed toward specific individuals.

Barry Peel, who supports planning and is considering a run for judge-executive in the next countywide election, said he had been libeled in a recent letter to the editor in the local newspaper. Peel said he didn't move to Garrard County to run for judge; he moved to Garrard County because his 80-year-old mother had a stroke.

Becky Pschorr of the group Concerned Citizens of Garrard County asked magistrates to entertain questions about the goals and objectives before voting on them. Among the questions she posed were: Who decided Garrard County needs planning, why does the county need planning, and what is the estimated cost of having it?

One man who spoke up against adoption of the Planning Commission's proposal asked that the issue be put on the ballot for voters to decide, but both Peel and County Attorney Jeff Moss said legally it can't be done. Another man posed the idea of people writing in on the ballot that they don't want planning and zoning.

Billy Conn, a vocal opponent of planning and zoning, asked the court for the ordinance number of the Planning Commission's proposal. Without a number, the issue is dead, he claimed.

Moss, however, said what has been presented thus far are goals and objectives, not the actual comprehensive plan. Conn persisted, though, in his claim.

One of the lighter moments in the meeting came when Moss told Conn, "Billy, what is the name of your next child? You don't know because it hasn't been presented yet." The comment drew laughter from the crowd.

Most of the 90 spectator seats in the courthouse courtroom were filled Monday night, and the crowd overflowed into the jury box.

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