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'Z-word' monster pushed off the back burnerPosted 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 email@example.com; or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages...
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