Planning board move to replace MRPO level-headed

Published 5:18pm Tuesday, October 23, 2012

While three of the five sitting Polk County Commissioners moved to rescind the mountainside ridgeline protection ordinance, our staff feels reassured by the steady minds of the planning board and their action to recommend replacing the MRPO instead.
Its true the MRPO rubbed many county residents the wrong way. For months much of our paper has been taken up by heated opinions of commissioners, UDO committee members and residents regarding slope, elevation and the costs to property owners should the MRPO restrictions stay in place.
What the planning board suggests the county do is to replace MRPO with Article 24, a steep slopes ordinance. This ordinance would place restrictions on property with 30-percent slope or greater instead of the 25-percent slope restriction placed by the MRPO. The planning board also suggested the removal of some of the analysis required for properties at such a slope because they said the tests would be restrictive based on cost. Article 24 still requires soil and hydrology reports, so not all protections have been removed.
The county needs to take steps to protect its mountainsides. So while the MRPO might have felt too constricting for many residents, moving in the other direction and throwing all protection in the wind isn’t the way to go either.
We’re glad the planning board took the time to really consider what removing all restrictions could do to the county.
People should have some control over what they can do with their own property but they shouldn’t be able to build anything they want if what they want is to the detriment of their neighbor’s property or the safety of others.
Instead of a knee-jerk reaction to dump months of work, planning board members took a step back and worked to come up with a plan that could work for the benefit of all involved. It’s good to see people trying to listen to one another and compromise.

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