Zoning issue heats upTentative public hearing set for March 5 at the Washington County 4-H Building
Who has the petitions and the cards opposing zoning that were turned in prior to a public meeting three years ago?
That was one of many questions asked during the Washington County Board of Supervisors’ discussion on the Washington County zoning ordinance at its regular meeting today. The supervisors tentatively set at public hearing on the issue for March 5 in the Washington County 4-H building on the Washington County Fairgrounds. The meeting was scheduled in March so it would not conflict the board’s budgeting process.
Supervisor Stan Stoops called for the meeting, saying he wanted to make sure the meeting was in the evening to allow the most people to attend. The time will be set at a later meeting, after the 4-H building is confirmed.
“When zoning was voted in, they (zoning opponents) felt they had the majority and that they were looked over,” Stoops said. “I’d like to set this up again and have it talked about.”
Washington County Zoning Administrator Steve Lafaurie and planning and zoning commission president Don Kline had been present to give the department’s quarterly report.
Kline said that there were many rumors and “misinformation” about the zoning code. He said both sides had a hearing before the ordinance was approved.
“That is the hard part of governing is that there is always going to be the other side after you if they are on the losing side,” he said.
He said that he hoped the supervisors could go through the ordinance before the public meeting so if someone at the meeting said something that isn’t true, they would know.
“It was talked about and both sides were listened to,” Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. said. “It appears the majority of the people’s will was not listened to when it was enacted, and that is the problem.”
During the meeting Lafaurie distributed a sheet of 10 reasons zoning is necessary in the county. Seward, who asked him at a prior meeting what would happen in the county if the ordinance were removed, said he did not believe the sheet answered his question.
Kline said that when the zoning ordinance was created, people from all sides of the issue had worked on the proposal for the ordinance and the board had accepted it.
“There was a good cross-section of people on both sides who wrote those documents,” he said. “The reason it came into being is because there were people out there who had legitimate problems.”
Kline said that the issue of zoning couldn’t legally be brought to a public vote. Seward said that statement is “arguable.”
During the meeting several members of the audience were given the opportunity to
comment on zoning, including a plea for the board to rescind zoning with no more discussion. Commenters also said that Stoops, Seward and Bob Yoder had been elected because they opposed zoning. There was no mention of a public hearing for the zoning ordinance on the board agenda. Washington County Attorney Larry Brock said that it is legal for the board to take comments during discussion.
“The board can run the meetings the way they want to run the meetings,” Brock said. “If the board thinks that is the most efficient way to run the meetings, the board has the ability to do that. Frankly I don’t think it is efficient, but this board can run the meeting the way they want to run the meeting.”
In other business, the board:
• voted to defer action on vacating part of County Road 11 in Oregon Township;
• established a letting date for a road improvement project as Feb. 19;
• heard the quarterly reports from the Washington County Auditor, treasurer and recorder;
• approved a resolution for an interfund loan transfer of $200,000 for the completion of HACAP at Orchard Hill. The money will be returned to the general fund after the project is complete and grants that were awarded the project are given; and
• approved a letter of support for the witness/victim coordinator.