Cole County Commission discusses county zoning

Cole County commissioners are asking their zoning oversight committee to have a public meeting to go over zoning plan recommendations from the consultant the county hired.

On Tuesday, Mark White of White and Smith LLC shared the group’s recommendations with the commissioners.

Following a public meeting last July, the group came back with zoning plan goals that include:

• Contiguous development

• Separate residential from commercial/industrial

• Mixed use opportunities

In discussions with residents, the consultants found the uses the community wanted regulated included:

• Salvage yards

• Manufactured home parks, although manufactured homes should be allowed

• Adult businesses. The county can regulate them, but cannot completely exclude them.

• Quarries

Some residents said farms should be protected from non-farm land uses.

Farm buildings are already exempted from regulations, and White said this would be made more clear with a zoning plan in place.

Zoning districts would include:

• Agriculture

• Residential

• Commercial

• Industrial

“Residential districts would probably be similar to what is seen in Jefferson City,” White said. “Industrial districts would be less detailed than in the city.”

He said most people don’t see the effects of zoning on a day-to-day basis. In most cases, regulations are only an issue where a property owner proposes a very intensive use for land, such as a landfill near a residential neighborhood.

After about an hour, the commissioners suggested the zoning commission should look at the information and then come back to the County Commission.

Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger asked that they also have other interests such as Realtors, agriculture groups and the Chamber of Commerce look at what’s being proposed.

“We knew that this will eventually land on your desks and wanted you to know what was coming,” White said.

The County Commission will have to adopt the plan and send it on to the voters for final approval.

“Citizens want to see how this will affect them, and we need to get a proposed map out there,” said Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle. “I believe the less intrusive zoning we have, the better.”

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

In other business Tuesday, commissioners heard complaints about dogs causing damage to properties in the Southwood Hills area.

Last year, residents from the area brought similar complaints to the commission.

Since this is an unincorporated area of the county, Ellinger said, the only solutions would be to change the county charter to allow the sheriff’s department to take action, which would take a long time to get done.

The other way would be to get a leash law for the area, which requires 75 percent of the property owners to sign a petition to have commissioners approve it.

The Westview Heights area is the only unincorporated area of the county to have such a law.

Ellinger said some Southwood Hills residents tried last year, but couldn’t reach the 75 percent goal.

Neighbors have said owners of the dogs who have caused the problems know nothing can be done, unless someone is bitten by the dogs.

Commissioners encouraged residents to talk with their state representatives about changing state law that would allow the county to take action in cases like this.

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