The Transylvania Times -

By Mark Todd
Staff Writer" 

Board Scheduled To Discuss Zoning

 


Zoning in Transylvania County: Is it an idea whose time has come?

That was the question at the last county Planning Board meeting.

The Board came to no conclusion but debated the issue at length. The discussion is scheduled to continue on Thursday during the next

board meeting.

"I think we can come up with something that's going to work. I really do," said Planning and Economic Development Director Mark

Burrows at the meeting.

Sometimes, the conversation became heated and emotions ran high. The issue arose earlier this fall when the county Board of Commissioners voted to ask for help from the Planning Board.

The City of Brevard was considering annexing additional areas adjacent to the city limits, but recent projected costs for annexation may mean that will not happen anytime soon.

The city may or may not also extend its area of extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) up to one mile beyond newly annexed areas. That would give the city the right to control land use and apply zoning regulations in the ETJ, an area where residents would have no say in city elections.

That bothers county commissioners, particularly Commissioner David Guice, who led the discussion on that issue at several recent Board meetings.

One option the county has is to adopt zoning regulations of its own in areas that may become part of the city ETJ in the future. That way, at least, the residents in those areas would be able to come and argue for or against certain controls to a Board they actually elect.

Another option is for the county to simply adopt countywide zoning, perhaps a type that would allow mixed uses including all existing land uses now in place.

The county could also require certain controversial land uses, such as junkyards or pig farms, to receive special permission before opening up.

If it wanted, the county could immediately or over time adopt more stringent requirements. Zoning is long established in many areas of the country, although not in local unincorporated areas. It has its critics and its supporters. Zoning is often changed once in place depending on the needs of property owners, developers or government bodies.

It gives property owners more sense of security about what might happen in their neighborhood, but also limits them in how they can use their property.

Members of the board discussed all of those points and more.

Burrows said it's up to the county commissioners, ultimately, to decide what to do, and the commissioners want to hear from the Planning Board.

Some members of the Board, such as Parker Platt, believe zoning needs to be adopted countywide, and soon, at the risk of the county's natural beauty and way of life being damaged.

Others, including Terry Crowe, say they don't want to see the county ravaged by illadvised development, but want to hold off on zoning as long as possible in deference to private property rights.

But even Crowe admits that he thinks zoning is inevitable. "I have a list a mile long of things that I dislike about zoning. Zoning always starts simple enough, then it changes," he said.

Board Chairman Jimmy Perkins said he, like Platt, supports zoning, adding that it will allow the county to "define its own destiny. "There is the argument that zoning tends to attract industry," he said.

Burrows agreed, saying zoning also tends to attract investment in general. "At least you know what's there when you're starting off," Burrows said.

"I'd like to see it remain flexible. That's our heritage," Parker said. "I'm afraid we're in danger of losing what makes this place special" because of large scale, heavily-funded development by outside companies," he said.

 
 

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