Our Opinion: Approve zoning for Cole County

News Tribune editorial

The dual goal of Cole County zoning is to protect individual property values while promoting orderly growth countywide.

We see that as beneficial for both the county and its residents.

County voters on Aug. 5 will decide a proposal to establish zoning. The ballot question asks: “Shall county zoning be adopted in Cole County?”

Although the question is open-ended — a focus of criticism for some opponents — the procedure and plan are well-documented.

A 102-page zoning plan and comprehensive map have been created and refined during the past four years by members of the county’s Zoning Advisory Committee, planning committee, public works staff and Cole County Commission.

If voters approve the ballot issue, the zoning plan and map would be subject to public hearings before a vote by the commission, the county’s three-member governing body.

The zoning plan is designed, according to the document, “to balance the interests of neighborhoods and the county as a whole,” and “to work cooperatively with property owners and developers to ensure that these regulations are predictable and development friendly.”

The proposal establishes nine zoning districts, including: agriculture; single-family residential; multi-family residential; neighborhood commercial; general commercial urban; general commercial rural; light industrial; heavy industrial; and planned development. A floodplain overlay also is included.

Other provisions outline: development standards; procedures, including conditional use permits, appeals and variances; supplemental use regulations, including signs and telecommunications towers; nonconforming uses and structures; and oversight and enforcement.

Everything about the proposal is straight-forward and consistent with standard zoning procedures. We find nothing that might be construed as a hidden agenda or erosion of property rights.

The zoning proposal has won the endorsement of groups representing Realtors and home builders — support opponents suggest will give those groups undue influence over the zoning process.

We do not share those suspicions. Admittedly, as a newspaper, we have a business relationships with both Realtors and builders. As individual property owners, however, we also share a common interest with Realtors and builders in maintaining and enhancing property values.

The perceived threats of county zoning are unsubstantiated fears.

Zoning is an opportunity to protect the value of your property while directing the orderly growth of development throughout the county.

We encourage county residents on Aug. 5 to vote yes on county zoning.

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