A Callaway County Property Rights Coalition has been organized to oppose any proposed Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ) in Callaway County.
About a dozen citizens gathered Friday night at the Stephens Community Center to discuss the proposed EEZ.
"Every person located within the proposed EEZ needs to be informed," said event organizer Lawrence Pezold.
At the Stephens meeting, Rachel Payton, a member of the board of directors of the Callaway County Property Rights Coalition, explained how citizens can effectively take action to support or oppose local proposals that affect property rights. Those attending the meeting discussed the general concept of enhanced enterprise zones.
The EEZ proposal came from the Fulton Area Development Corporation (FADC), which wants the EEZ designation in order to give tax breaks to eligible industries willing to create jobs in the community.
But the property rights group opposes the EEZs because of the state legal requirement that an area to be designated as an Enhanced Enterprise Zone "shall be a blighted area, have pervasive poverty, unemployment and general distress."
Many Callaway County farmers don't want their property to be declared as blighted, even if that designation allows a corporation to expand an industry to create jobs.
"Our organization is concerned with all threats to our property rights," said Phil Todd, vice president of CPRC.
Mitch Hubbard, president of the Callaway Property Rights Coalition, said research by the Show-Me Institute, a St. Louis-based conservative organization, shows enterprise zones have not been successful. He said the counties with enterprise zones have been shown to have less economic development than adjacent counties without such a designation.
Bruce Hackmann, FADC president, disagrees. He said there are numerous areas and examples around the state where enterprise zones have been successful. He said one is in Holts Summit where Pro Foods recently expanded because of the existence of an EEZ in Holts Summit.