Cole County schedules public meetings on zoning plan

Cole County officials have scheduled a series of meetings to gather public input on plans to ask voters to approve county zoning on the August ballot.

All of the meetings, which are scheduled for 7 p.m., will begin with an overview of why residents have asked for zoning and how the process came about.

The meeting dates and locations are: April 29 at the St. Martins Knights of Columbus Hall; May 1 at the Russellville Elementary School cafeteria; May 6 at the Wardsville Lions Club; and June 9 at the Cole County Emergency Management classroom on Southridge Drive.

County officials will be on hand to answer questions and have copies of the proposed zoning map.

The County Commission has said the measure will be on the August ballot.

Contiguous development and separate residential areas from commercial/industrial areas are goals county officials are trying to achieve with these regulations. They also want to preserve the agricultural heritage of the county and incorporate flexibility, giving the county the ability to respond to a variety of situations and changing markets. They also want to follow earlier public recommendations that sought regulation of salvage yards, manufactured home parks, adult businesses and quarries.

A rough draft zoning map, based on the 2010 Cole County Master Plan and resident comments, has been created.

The majority of the county is zoned agriculture, but areas along the borders of Jefferson City and other incorporated communities in the county have zoning that would allow for development.

Already, the measure is getting support.

Leaders of the Jefferson City Area Board of Realtors and Home Builders Association of Central Missouri said they are appreciative of the work and cooperation of the Cole County Zoning Advisory Committee, Cole County Public Works Staff and Cole County Commission.

“We are very grateful for all the work that has been done on this very important issue for our community,” said Joanie Forck, president of the Realtors board. “One of the main missions of our organization is to review proposals from our local governments in the context of what they will do for property values and land owner rights.

“We believe that the zoning ordinance that the county commissioners will receive if the county supports zoning are in the best interests of our community and should make Cole County an even better place for home and property owners,” she said.

Added Aaron Bax, HBA president: “As our community continues to grow, so does the need for strategic planning and zoning requirements. New homeowners are concerned about property values when making the largest purchase of their lives, and the passage of countywide zoning should increase their comfort level.”

A copy of the zoning plan is available on the county’s website, www.colecounty.org. It’s on the public works page under the planning tab.

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