Archived Story

Polk has spent $74k on developing UDO

Published 5:51pm Friday, September 21, 2012

Polk County has spent $74,167.75 on the unified development ordinance (UDO) so far, according to contracts from the Polk County Finance Office. Discussions and expenses related to the UDO began in 2010.
The costs include $57,100 to Holland Consulting and $17,067.75 to attorney Michael Egan for their work on the UDO.
During a public hearing held Sept. 17, which was attended by about 300 people, 52 of whom spoke against the UDO, several speakers mentioned that the county has paid $197,000 for the UDO.
The cost numbers the speakers were referring to were obtained from the county, but they included costs for the county’s comprehensive plan, approved March 15, 2010, and total costs to Egan for all planning board duties. Egan works with the planning board for a variety of duties, including work on the UDO, as well as attending meetings, work completed on the subdivision and zoning ordinances, working with the zoning board of adjustment, recent planning board training and any land use compliance issues.
The comprehensive plan cost the county $87,852.50, including $84,860 to Holland Consulting and $2,992.50 to Egan, according to the county’s figures.
None of the costs include employee time. The county also received a $6,000 grant from the Polk County Community Foundation for the comprehensive plan, which is not included in the costs.
Some speakers on Sept. 17 said they understand the county has spent $197,000 on the UDO and they think that money should have been used for other needs.
“I understand $197,000 has been spent and I believe that money could have been spent elsewhere,” said Polk County resident Russell Stribling.
Residents Ben Hudson, Tyrone Phillips and Phillip Baumberger also mentioned the $197,000 allegedly spent.
“One person doesn’t want to see lights on a mountain and you’re going to spend $197,000 for what one person wants?” Baumberger asked commissioners.
In total, the county has spent $162,020.25 for the 20/20 vision (comprehensive plan) and the UDO, including consulting and attorney fees.
Commissioners began discussing creating a UDO on May 3, 2010 (see timeline page 4). A UDO committee was created  to work on a draft UDO, which was approved by a split vote on May 9, 2012. The UDO committee recommended deleting the mountainside and ridgeline section, which currently restricts development at elevations above 1,650 ft., and to apply requirements for land disturbing activity of slopes 30 percent or greater to the entire county, among other recommendations.
Of the members on the UDO committee, Henry Bright, Ray Gasperson, Evangelena Barber, Doug Harmon, Jim Carson, Wayne Horne and Roger Odel approved the motion with the recommendations. UDO committee members Christel Walter, Mark Byington, Renée McDermott, Harry Petersen and Lisa Krolak voted against the motion.
The UDO committee’s draft was sent to the planning board, which made further revisions prior to recommending the UDO draft to the board of commissioners, including changing the slope restriction to a slope of 25 percent or more.
Commissioners scheduled a workshop to discuss the UDO draft for Oct. 1 at 5 p.m.


    This issue of the money wasted on the UDO, and it is an enormous sum, is the real benefit of another failed process. Over and over again we see local government simply waste the taxpayer money they are trusted with in the coffers of the general fund. There are many examples in front of us. Such as the UDO which no one wants in terms of the majority of folks out in the county. The UDO is the product of town thinking and a government centered in Columbus, Tryon, and Saluda which looks after the interests of the towns and seeks to IMPOSE on county folks outside the towns. And they are successful because the towns control the news and refuse to print letters to editor by folks like me, over and over again, who disagree with their viewpoint because I do not live in town. Over and over again county residents write in to their commission in disagreement with matters such as the UDO. And over and over again our commissioners for years have been elected to promote town interests. This is the problem. Until this changes the mess will continue. It is a long list of waste now. It is not just the UDO. Remember the annexation battle in Tryon, the simple fact the county stood by and watched the town of Tryon annex Harmon Field so that they could have their alcohol event there without holding an alcohol referendum, the FEMA grant to repair the river which never repaired the slide intentionally created to get the FEMA grant, and no one seems to notice matters such as the total of picture of that slide fitting into the rails to trails political plan. All of these matters indicative of commissioners over a long period of years who will not listen to their constituents outside town, but do listen to the town governments. The towns in Polk have small incorporated area, but the overwhelming political clout in Polk county is in the towns. The towns insist over and over money be wasted to limit the freedom and land use of the county at large and our Polk County commission has a long history over many, many years of supporting the town view over the view of county residents at large. THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE. COMMISSIONERS NEED TO REALLY LISTEN AND PAY ATTENTION TO THE FOLKS WHO LIVE OUTSIDE THE TOWNS AND THEY NEED TO GET OUT OF THEIR SEATS IN COLUMBUS AND GET OUT INTO THE COUNTY. AND THE LOCAL NEWSPAPERS NEED TO CHANGE THE POLICY OF ONLY PRINTING LETTERS TO EDITOR WHICH SUIT THEIR NARROW MINDED MAIN STREET TOWN VIEW. THAT IS THE ONLY WAY EVERYONE WILL EVER HAVE A VOICE. AND THAT IS WHAT IS GOING ON FOLKS………..ONLY THE ONE HUNDRED FOLKS WHO SUPPORT THE UDO HAD A VOICE…………. AND THEIR VOICE WAS LOUDER THAN EVERYONE ELSE FOR SO LONG BECAUSE EVERY TIME SOMEONE LIKE ME WROTE IN OPPOSITION TO THE UDO IT WAS HUSHED UP ALONG WITH THE CORRUPTION SURROUNDING IT.

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