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Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014

'Z-word' monster pushed off the back burner

Posted Friday, August 20, 2010, at 12:32 PM

Well, it seems the Greene County Commissioners pushed the dreaded "z-word" monster off the back-burner at Monday morning's meeting.

Zoning is now on the heat of the fire and is being actively talked about, even if one member of the commissioners would like to call it by its "kinder and gentler" name "land use planning."

Greene County's three representatives on the WestGate Authority -- John Mensch, Ken Gremore and Brian Sparks -- made scripted pleas in favor of zoning at the Monday meeting hailing the merits of zoning as an enhancement to future economic efforts in the county -- especially along the I-69 corridor and around the growing WestGate at Crane Technology Park.

The commissioners have directed the Plan Commission to conduct at least two public informational meetings to discuss land use planning or zoning efforts in the county before the end of the year.

Farm Bureau, Inc. has agreed to host the first meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 21 at the Greene County Extension Service office at the fairgrounds.

A date for the second meeting has not been set.

Zoning is an emotional topic that is sometimes clouded by false arguments by the "no-zoners" who call it a government conspiracy tactic to dwindle personal rights of property ownership.

That's simply not true.

Zoning is, by one definition, the way the local government controls the physical development of land and the kinds of uses to which each individual property may be put.

By definition, land use management works to ensure that all land and properties in a designated area are used only according to their permitted land-use or zoning rights.

Typical land-use or zoning categories include:

* Residential zones

* Open space zones

* Business commercial zones

* Community use facility zones

* Industrial zones

* Utility zones

* Transport zones

What is land use planning?

It is comprehensive planning that is carried out by units of local government (such as the county commissioners, city council, town council or plan commission) to identify the optimum uses of land and to serve as a basis for the adoption of zoning or other land use controls.

All three sound very similar to me.

Those who favor zoning contend regulation is needed to make sure "undesirable" businesses do not locate in areas that will impede economic development, or intrude on areas deemed for industrial or residential purposes, or threaten the peace and harmony of our residential areas.

They also contend that control is needed to protect the multi-million investments of developers -- and in our county's case, that applies to the area near and within the WestGate Tech Park.

I do wonder if covenants, which are already in place by the lead developer, can accomplish the same thing as zoning inside the tech park?

Of the 92 counties in the state of Indiana, 13 are not zoned.

The three counties that comprise the WestGate Tech Park -- Greene, Daviess and Martin -- are three of those counties. However, Daviess is actively working on a zoning plan.

Has the lack of zoning curbed the development so far at WestGate tech park?

The good news is about 750 jobs have been created in the three neighboring counties where the park is located.

Greene County residents lead the way with 372 jobs created at the tech park since its founding in 2005. That's money coming into this county through the County Option Income Tax, according to figures provided by WestGate officials.

Greene County Farm Bureau President Garry Heshelman has it right.

He says the informational meetings will be for the purpose of explaining the reasons why zoning is warranted at this time.

The meetings should not be turned into a shouting match between the two factions based on emotional, non-factual arguments.

Facts are facts and that is what we as citizens of the county need to hear.

We don't need a lot of pricey outside consultants, educated speakers or so-called experts coming in and telling us what we need.

Let our local elected leaders explain it.

The ball is in their court.

They represent the people. They need to understand it and should be able to back up their views with some facts.

We need to listen to the facts and they need to make the decision.

On the surface, I favor some kind of controls in the tech park area and along the I-69 corridor and not necessarily in the cities, towns and townships.

I favor moderate, common sense controls that don't get into the constitutional realm of being intrusive.

Let's not forget and urge our local leaders to please take a close look at the Monroe County zoning plan. Then, they should quickly tear it up and not craft a word of it into Greene County's zoning guidelines.

Moderation is the word.

Common sense should be the guiding light.

Greene County is not Monroe County.

Linton, Bloomfield or Worthington and the rest of the county are not Bloomington and we should not be governed by anything that resembles the restrictive, intrusive plan that is being used by our neighbors.

Our county's leaders will be making a decision soon on which future avenue we chose to drive down.

Will it be the land use or zoning path?

Or, will it be a road of unrestrained development in an unorganized manner?

Give us the facts and leave the rhetoric at home.

The z-word monster is here and lurking in our midst. We might as well get to know him.

Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487; by e-mail at schneider.nick@gmail.com; or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages...


Comments
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Couple of comments:

A few years ago my 92 year old mother, who lives in a small town in northern Ind., visited me for a few days. After spending a weekend here, going for a drive, going shopping with me, out to eat, to church, visiting a friend, etc., on Sunday afternoon shortly before she left she said, "I feel like I have stepped back in time about 30 years." To some that might be a compliment or it could be a put-down. Which way do you take it in this modern world?

Another thing ... a friend recently moved to the county and he commented on the fact that "it is a shame that you see a torn up mobile home right next to a very nice home." I say to him, I think it's a shame too. But in this county there is nothing you can do. And I'm just looking at zoning from the residential aspect. Commercial is another whole ball of wax!

I think maybe my 92 year old mom is right ... Greene County should move out of the last century and into this one.

-- Posted by vintner on Fri, Aug 20, 2010, at 3:04 PM

I find both extremes crazy. Those that use words like Government control and Nazi and Socialism are no better than those that talk about a strip club next to your house. Neither one is realistic.

-- Posted by wotownboy on Fri, Aug 20, 2010, at 5:12 PM

Have we not given up enough of our freedoms to so called " Government". We already know that we realy don't own any land. We just pay the "Government" so much money (taxes) just to take care of the land for some one else to live on after we die.

-- Posted by Timothy E. Jones on Fri, Aug 20, 2010, at 8:28 PM

Make it a township desicion. The township trustees are responsible for township zoning. As with county zoning, there is a township zoning inspector, a township zoning commission, and a township board of appeals. Each township will have its own resolution.

Townships have more control of development goals than counties. Responsible zonings within the township should coordinate with the planning direction of the county, yet retain the right to make decisions in the townships interest.

Bigger government? Yes. But let the people affected make the decisions.

And if you don't think a strip club or adult book store is a very real possibility, just drive up any major interstate and rethink that statement.

-- Posted by instigator474 on Mon, Aug 23, 2010, at 8:34 AM

Nick,

Please inform the public, when you Speak of "Facts", you say we want no part of the restrictive, intrusive plan that is being used to govern our neighbor. What part of the Monroe Co. zoning ordinance plan do we not want in Greene County?

-- Posted by mws47471 on Mon, Aug 23, 2010, at 8:37 AM

I-rate- what you basing your "very few if any" answer on? SAIC has 18 job openings and EG&G has 19. I know how it works and realize that not all of these are "new jobs" and not all are located in the tech park, but some are. What about all of the new companies located in the park? They didn't bring everyone with them. They hired new people or retirees from Crane. Those retirees positions were filled by contractors or government personel. While the park hasn't progressed in Greene County like I had hoped it would, it is growing. Take a drive down there and look around. It's a good thing. Get on board.

-- Posted by instigator474 on Tue, Aug 24, 2010, at 2:47 PM

Did you wind up purchasing some land near Westgate, John? If so, a bias by you and anyone in your shoes is understandable because you stand to profit. But the rest of the county outside that corridor are the ones that will ultimately pay for your gain. Where is the justice there?

-- Posted by RDK on Wed, Aug 25, 2010, at 10:03 AM

Maybe some of you out there who want zoning should actually live in an area with zoning for a few years and then see how you feel about it, expecially if you own a farm or business. I have, and did for 20+ years and I can tell you I was overjoyed when I moved to Greene county. Zoning may start out as a promise to help the area, but like everything, it evolves into a night mare for those who farm or do business in a county. I can tell you from personal experience that with zoning, you have more problems with trashy places and undesirables. I have seen less of that problem here than I did there. The only thing zoning did was raise revenews for the counties, turn the code enforcement into cops,forced me to take all day off from work to obtain a permit, or spend countless hours jumping through the hoops to get an exemption. We still had topless bars, high grass & unkept properties. I have not see a topless place yet in Greene county.

And as far as propery values go, the farmers on this site are right, if your property is rezoned for commercial, by the zoning law they would be forced to stop farming and their taxes would go up, to meet the commercial rates. I acutally had a neighbor who did convience the county that my property was zoned differently than it actually was, it was a nightmare to prove that it was not. I had to put my business on hold for almost a year.

So think long and hard before you take this 1st step, there are other ways to promote growth in a healthy way.

-- Posted by forthekid on Wed, Aug 25, 2010, at 7:32 PM

Mason,

You are still missing the point, even with zoning we still had problems with junk yards, zoning does not alway fix the problem, it took years ( 10yrs) and thousands ($250,000.00) of taxpayer $ to drive those people out. (And property values still went down.) Just because you have a zoning department, does not mean it will stop those people from doing what they did. It only hurts those people that do play by the rules.

-- Posted by forthekid on Wed, Aug 25, 2010, at 8:36 PM

Mason, you are quick to through that word around, maybe you should look in the mirror 1st before you start sling it around. I know what my own experiance was as were my families. This whole argument is about how much power you want to give your local government. Remember absolute power corrupts absolutely. Do you want to be a sheep? BAh, BAh!!!

-- Posted by forthekid on Wed, Aug 25, 2010, at 8:53 PM

I guess he will really miss that extra spending money! LOL!!

-- Posted by forthekid on Wed, Aug 25, 2010, at 9:15 PM


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