Zoning aims to achieve the delicate balance between freedom and restriction or, more specifically, what a property owners wants and doesn't want.
That balance is upset when a property owner seeks to protect personal freedom, but restrict neighbors' actions, particularly actions that might devalue the area.
Cole County officials now are in the process of creating a zoning plan - a process Western District Commissioner Chris Wrigley said "would help in orderly growth while protecting the rights or personal property of people."
His Eastern District counterpart, Jeff Hoelscher, acknowledged: "I know people want less government, but we want somebody watching what's going on with properties. Zoning does help maintain what is and is not allowed."
The county's three-member governing body, the Cole County Commission, earlier this year hired a consultant, White and Smith LLC, to prepare a zoning plan and map for the county.
Part of the preparation is a workshop and public forum, to be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday in the training classroom at the Cole County Fire Protection District building, 5206 Monticello Road.
The forum is a step in the process, which Wrigley said has been ongoing for two years and is "far from being a done deal."
After public comments have been received and a final plan is advanced, it will be submitted to county residents for a vote.
Cole County remains one of only a few first-class Missouri counties without zoning.
The question is less about whether Cole County will have zoning, and more about when it will be adopted and what the plan will entail.
Forums, including the one scheduled Wednesday, are an opportunity for county residents to offer input on what they want and don't want.
Take time to help create the plan that will apply to your property.