Polk County’s first ordinance in 1965 approved

Published 10:06 am Friday, August 24, 2012

UDO draft set to be complete by Sept. 4
Polk County, which has been working on a unified development ordinance (UDO) for the past couple of years, looked back during a county commissioners’ meeting this week at the history of ordinances in the county.
Polk County first mentioned creating an ordinance in 1963 in order to write grants to create maps. The first ordinance, approved in 1965, was created to zone the small portion of the county between Tryon and Columbus. Polk County Planner Cathy Ruth said it’s possible an area in Saluda was also zoned at that time.
The first ordinance that affected the entire county occurred in 1973 when the county enacted its first subdivision ordinance. A junk car ordinance also went into effect in 1974.
The county’s first subdivision ordinance wasn’t complex, Ruth said, “but I think for that time it was elaborate.”
Ruth said the 1973 document detailed how to break off lots and included minimum lot sizes and road requirements.
Commissioner chair Ray Gasperson said it’s fascinating to him that Polk County has had something like a subdivision ordinance since that time, and he said there’s no doubt it would have been contentious.
Commissioner Ted Owens said he was here in 1973 and none of the ordinances were a big deal. He said he doubted at that time if the subdivision ordinance affected a dozen people in the county. The junk car ordinance, Owens said, was enacted because the county was trying to encourage people to get rid of their junk cars, but there was no push to do that.
He said when he was a commissioner in the 1980s the county approved zoning an area in Lynn, which was requested.
“It really wasn’t a big issue in the county in those days,” Owens said.
Owens said the only ordinance he remembers as being contentious was the sign ordinance enacted in 1994. He referred to the effort to pass a sign ordinance as being a “knock down, drag out” fight in the county at that time.
Gasperson mentioned that the sign ordinance in the proposed UDO is not changing. He said Polk County certainly sees the benefit of the sign ordinance enacted in 1994 because the county is free of large signs today.
Commissioner vice-chair Renée McDermott said many people compliment Polk County and compare the area to larger areas such as Spartanburg and Buncombe County, saying it’s much more pleasant to drive through Polk with no billboards. McDermott commended the county on the foresight officials had back then to approve a sign ordinance.
Other ordinances throughout Polk County’s history include a watershed ordinance approved in 1993; a mobile home park ordinance in 1995; a tower ordinance in 1998; a mobile home ordinance in 2003; an adult entertainment ordinance in 2004; a junkyard ordinance in 2004 and the mountainside and ridgeline protection ordinance in 2009.
The UDO, which will combine all county ordinances into one document, has been approved by the Polk County Planning Board and is being updated by Holland Consultants. Ruth said during a meeting Monday, Aug. 20 that the finished document should be back from the consultant by Sept. 4.
A public hearing on the UDO is scheduled for Sept. 17.
Commissioners may schedule a work session to review the UDO prior to the public hearing.

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