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Commission studies idea of land use planning

Commission studies idea of land use planning
Members of the county’s land use study committee have delayed a decision to form an actual Land Use Planning Commission citing they need more information as well as time to determine if the decision will be beneficial to property owners. In a meeting two weeks ago, land use study committee chairman Eric Owen made a recommendation for members to bring names to the table to implement a county land use planning commission. “I don’t think it would be a good idea to put elected officials on this committee. I recommend officials to be on the committee should be those who live outside of urban growth areas,’ Owen stated during the meeting earlier this month. He added the purpose of a planning commission would be to form policies to recommend to the board of county commissioners involving land use. The study committee resulted from a recommendation by Gov. Phil Bredesen for the county’s continued participation in the Governor’s Three-Star program. The program allows municipalities to apply for match grants with the state if certain counties meet the “benchmarks” of the program. One benchmark of the Three-Star program requires counties to implement a land use and transportation planning commission outside of the urban growth areas. The commission must also create land use guidelines. “All of us sitting down and talking about this is good for the community. I will work with you because I am here for Weakley County. Let’s do it if we feel this will be good for the county,” Weakley County Chamber of Commerce Director Barbara Virgin commented during Wednesday’s meeting of the Land Use Study Committee. Board members opted to not move forward with appointing members to a Land Use Planning Commission, without further study of the pros and cons of adopting the committee. “I recommend we keep studying before we make a decision,” John Salmon announced during the meeting. “None of us want to be restricted in what we can do with our land or our property. On the other hand, if we don’t have guidelines some choices would be permanent. But once you adopt those rules, you can’t change them,” study committee board member Wendell Alexander stated. “You can change those rules, but you have to go through the proper process for changing it,” Richard Shannon replied. Alexander made a motion for the study committee to obtain a map of Weakley County, which highlights the urban growth areas of the county. “This committee ought to have a map before we make any decision on this,” Jack Vincent echoed. “I still believe in free enterprise and if that’s what a person wants to do with his land, he should be able to do it,” Alexander cited. The real estate agent was referencing a situation, which prompted him to sell property he had purchased for subdivision construction several years ago. A hog farmer chose to use land adjacent to the subdivision property for hog raising. Alexander said that prompted him to sell his property and make plans elsewhere for a planned subdivision. “That was his right to do that,” he added. “We need to look at all of the aspects of forming a land use planning committee. We need to evaluate the pros and cons and decide what decision will be for the good of the county,” Shannon stated. With state and federal guidelines already in place for use of chemical sprays, seed spreading and EPA restrictions, Alexander said a lot of land is controlled today and people are moving closer to what the board is considering each day. “Doing nothing is not an option. If something were to happen, we can’t do anything about it,” Owen said before the board chose to adjourn until after the board can obtain a copy of a county map that highlights areas of urban growth. WCP 8.21.08

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