A priority for local governments is to promote orderly growth.
In Cole County, a major step toward that goal is anticipated in August when voters will be asked to approve county zoning.
In advance of the election, a series of meetings have been scheduled to seek public input on a proposed zoning map.
The meetings, all at 7 p.m., will be: April 29 at St. Martins Knight of Columbus Hall; May 1 at Russellville Elementary School cafeteria; May 6 at Wardsville Lions Club; and June 9 at the Cole County Emergency Management classroom on Southridge Drive.
The proposed zoning plan is neither hasty nor slap-dash. Instead, it is a result of four years of work developed from a 2010 Cole County Master Plan.
The document reflects input not only from Cole County's Zoning Advisory Committee but also from the County Commission, public works staff and planning committee. It also has been endorsed by leaders of the Jefferson City Area Board of Realtors and Home Builders Association of Central Missouri.
Cole County Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger said the dual goal of county zoning is to promote growth and development while protecting the rights of property owners.
Much of the county, as expected, is zoned agricultural. The map promotes contiguous development and separates residential areas from commercial/industrial zones. The design reflects public concerns about the location and regulation of salvage yards, manufactured home parks and adult businesses.
The plan includes a process for rezoning requests to be evaluated.
Any zoning proposal reflects a balance - sometimes, a delicate balance - between restriction and protection.
County officials be present at the public meetings to hear any concerns and answer questions.
The meetings represent a public opportunity to view and comment on the proposed zoning map. We encourage county residents to attend.