Your Opinion: Cole County zoning a ‘power grab’
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
After hearing Dick Peerson, co-chair of Cole County Zoning Committee speak, I have become convinced that the zoning proposal is a power grab by real estate developers. In Cole County you can see who expects to profit from a proposal by who supports it and their tactics. The campaign to pass zoning will be conducted by the Board of Realtors not citizens of Cole County. Voters in cities will vote on the proposal. Proponents are counting on city voters because county voters would overwhelming reject zoning. A meeting of citizens conducted by the zoning committee in 2012 surveyed people present. The biggest concern was private property rights. Most citizens of Cole County feel more threatened by zoning than by anything likely to be built near them.
The vote was scheduled in August to decrease voter turnout. The heat and busy schedules due to the start of school will cause some people not to vote. Real estate people and Chamber of Commerce members will be motivated to vote. The last August vote, increasing sales taxes, passed with 7 percent of registered voters voting. The same tactics were tried in February for the Transformation proposal, but the weather was warm and voters were better informed and rejected the tax increase. Twenty percent of registered voters voted. After passage, the commission will fill the zoning commission with real estate industry sympathizers. Any property owner can expect their interest to be disregarded by county government. Peerson also tried to use scare tactics by suggesting a strip joint could be built in Cole County. That is highly unlikely and does not justify turning over property rights to self-serving real estate people forever.
Due to the unfairness, city residents should vote against zoning or not vote at all. After all, county residents cannot vote on sales tax increases in Jefferson City even though they pay them.
Special interest groups are trying to impose their interest by devious means. Zoning is not wanted by most people in Cole County and should be withdrawn from the ballot.