Cole County officials to consider vote on zoning

The Cole County Commission could decide next week whether to put the issue of county zoning to a public vote later this year.

At the commission meeting Thursday, Dick Peerson, co-chairman of the zoning oversight committee, told the commission the committee has finalized its last draft of the zoning plan.

Its recommendation was to have public hearings for residents to give input on the plan. The hearings would be in April and/or May in Taos/Wardsville, Russellville, St. Martins and Jefferson City.

Commissioners told Peerson to work on setting up the public meetings.

Contiguous development and separate residential areas from commercial/industrial areas are goals the group is 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.

A goal of the zoning codes would be to promote economic development and protect property rights.

At first, commissioners thought about putting the question on the November ballot, but County Clerk Marvin Register suggested they put it on the August ballot since the November ballot will already have many issues on it.

The measure would likely say, “Shall the County of Cole have zoning or not.”

Cole County Public Works Director Larry Benz said if the majority of residents vote in favor to enact zoning, the document can still be changed to fit the county’s needs after the vote.

Commissioners were also told members of the Home Builders Association and Jefferson City Board of Realtors have been working with the committee on these recommendations and both groups would be willing to work to support the measure.


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