Path to county zoning mapped

If all would go according to plan, the earliest a vote on zoning in Cole County could take place would be April 2014.

At a county commission meeting Monday night, commissioners were briefed on where the process currently stands.

A meeting has been scheduled for next Tuesday with representatives of White & Smith LLC, the consultant hired by the commission to come up with a zoning plan and map.

The firm will give a report on its analysis of the current needs of the county.

Part of the presentation will be based on information received during a public meeting last July where residents said their main interest was to protect land use.

Zoning plan goals include ensuring the integrity and rights of all private property owners in the county while also providing for the agricultural heritage of the county.

Another goal is to ensure regulations are consistent with other regulations that affect development, such as subdivision regulations.

The draft plan should be completed by May and presented at public meetings around the county through November, possibly longer.

Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger said zoning has been a major constituent issues since he’s been on the commission.

“Not so much as will we vote on it, but rather could we get a plan together and let people look at it,” he said. “If we do this, we want a plan that is simple and understandable.”

Cole County is one of the last first-class counties without county zoning. Greene, Boone and Cass counties all have it.

Public works officials assured residents at Monday evening’s commission meeting that they are not considering anything as restrictive as Boone County’s laws, and the plan would not affect things like hunting on private property.

The officials want to address concerns expressed over the years, including placement of cell phone towers, salvage yards in residential areas as well as adult-themed businesses near child care centers.

Others in attendance noted zoning can provide for orderly growth and in Boone County the property values have gone up with zoning in place.

In other business at Monday night’s meeting, commissioners were briefed on projects that the public works department will be bidding or constructing in 2013.

Projects that would be funded by half-cent capital improvement sales tax money include curb and gutter upgrades on Business 50 West from the hotels west to the St. Martins city limits. Sidewalks would be part of the work.

Stormwater improvement projects in Westview Heights and Rainbow Hills subdivision are on the list as are intersection safety improvements at Hunters Run and Rainbow Hills Road.

Gravel to pave road upgrades are scheduled on Mt. Carmel Road, Swift and Boise Brule Road and Millbrook Road.

Pavement replacement is scheduled in Sleepy Hollow Estates Subdivision off of Seven Hills Road.

Beyond 2013, half-cent projects include Vaughn Ford Road low water crossing replacement and stormwater improvement projects in the Woodward Subdivision.

Projects to be done by public works crews in smaller communities include asphalting in Lohman and Taos, realignment and replacement of box culvert at South Liberty Road and pavement repair on Hunters Run Road.

The commission chambers were filled for Monday night’s meeting, the first regular night meeting in several years, with every seat filled.

Commissioners were pleased with the turnout and announced they would have more night meetings in the future to try and get more public involvement in county government issues.

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