By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
The Davis Town Hall was standing room only with people congesting the entryway trying to hear what was being said about the recent ordinance proposal brought forth by the Planning Commission. President of the committee, Ben Herrick welcomed the audience and thanked them for coming to the public meeting. Commission President Lowell Moore opened the meeting by reading a prepared statement that stated the following: “The Tucker County Commission in consultation with the Planning Commission has determined that the Tucker County Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO) in its current form will no longer be pursued. It is the goal of the Tucker County Commission to work closely with the Planning Commission and with input from the citizens of Tucker County to develop a future plan of action that will be best for all citizens of Tucker County.” He also welcomed anyone interested to join the boards to help in developing ordinances such as this for the betterment of the county. Moore also stated in light of the happenings at the prior days County Commission Meeting, that a resident of Tucker County is just that, a resident of this county regardless of where they originated from. “We as Tucker County need to live together and work together, and what I’m asking is please be respectful,” he stated.
Herrick took over and began by announcing the current members of the board, which consists of seven volunteers, though only two were in attendance. “It is not a zoning ordinance, it is not a land usage ordinance per se,” he began. “What it is, is an ordinance that affects if you sell property to subdivide for commercial real estate,” Herrick stated. “It was set up to protect both the residents, their neighbors, and people like the Volunteer Fire Department and EMS,” he continued. Questions are present regarding approximately eleven exits off Corridor H that are a dead end, which raise concern if Western Pocahontas Properties intend to develop these areas where this ordinance could have come into effect. Herrick confirmed the Planning Commission has attempted on several occasions to contact the property owners for clarification, however this has been unsuccessful to date. The intention is to prevent another instance such as Tuscan Ridge where several plots were purchased, however cannot be developed. Before opening the floor for comments, Herrick requested anyone speaking to stand up and introduce themselves prior to beginning to try and keep order to the meeting.
Moore spoke up again stating, “This has overreached anything that we were really expecting and this is not what we actually wanted” and said the Commission is against this proposal as written. It has been requested for the Planning Commission to address the next draft to only involve large, commercial sized developments and leave the private landowners and parcels out of the new edition to come. Commissioner Fred Davis agreed he would like to see something in place for anything new coming in, “what we have now, leave them alone,” he said. Herrick added the state requires them to include minor as well as major developments and the board has to abide by state codes and regulations.
Sarah Carr expressed concern over the regulations as to who a landowner can deed off property to, stating “I don’t disagree with everything you have in here.” She added, “It’s the wording, it’s the confusion of the way it’s written.” Carr continued to share a few other examples that she was concerned with that Herrick and the board stated they would make note of to consider for the next draft.
Jeremy Hile, a farmer from the Leadmine area, shared his feelings to the board and crowd. “I’m regulated already about beyond existence, any of the farmers in here knows it,” he began. “Most of this stuff didn’t look like it was aimed at helping me any,” he continued, giving examples as to how this would affect the landowners even though the board states it wouldn’t. “We can’t protect everyone from their own mistakes,” giving the example of “If I want to go out here and buy a lot at Tuscan Ridge, that’s my right as an American; it’s also my responsibility to know if it’s going to perk, if it’s going to have water before I buy it.” Hile continued, “If I go out there and buy it and it doesn’t have any of that, it doesn’t matter what anyone told me it’s my lot it’s my problem. I made the decision to buy that piece of property and I’d have to live with it.”
There was a minor uproar about the lack of publication about meeting times, locations, and the topics being covered such as these ordinances and community concerns. It was announced that these meetings have always been advertised in The Parsons Advocate either in the legal notices, What’s Happening section, or within other meeting articles. Sandra Goss told the crowd, “Well I guess it would be our responsibility, if you’re interested in what’s going on with your government maybe you should read the paper because they do have to advertise there.” Moore added, “People I’m telling you this is dead, you can sit and argue about this all night, the Commission isn’t going to approve none of this, absolutely nothing, and we’re going to be very careful if anything else comes up it will have to be major,” in attempts to bring peace back to the crowd.
Goss spoke up again stating, “In Lowell’s defense and all the county commissioners, they go in there, they’re elected, they look at things that are looking out for our benefit, they’re looking out for the people of this county. I don’t think they do things to harm us, I truly don’t, and they were trying to prevent developers from coming in here and not doing a great job at developing, they’re trying to help us.” Goss continued, “We can disagree with him, we can bring our objections but we don’t have to attack them, they’re people just like you. He owns property just like you do, just like I do, he’s not going to anything that is going to be harmful to him or the rest of these people. They’re trying to make things better, to be organized, to have some controls in your counties to control what happens here. You just can’t throw it open for anybody to do anything,” she concluded.
Jim Nelson added, “I feel that it should be put together and taken to the county commissioners and have a county commissioner meeting. If you want to come in and discuss it, that’s the way it should be done because they are elected officials and if you got enough time you should go in. I mean if you want to get in here and run your mouth you should go to a county commission meeting and find out what’s going on.” Nelson continued, “I don’t disagree with everything that you’ve got, but I will tell you one thing you have to have some control over things.”
A few other individuals expressed issues over county commission meeting times that are inconvenient for individuals who work as well as expressing an interest in serving on some of the county government boards. As the hands no longer rose with a request to speak, Herrick added a few words to close the meeting. He assured this ordinance came into being by the request of the County Commission, however it became evident it didn’t fit the needs and desires of the citizens of the county. Work will continue to come up with another draft which will become public knowledge. He thanked everyone for coming and the meeting was dismissed.