UDO still needs work

Published 5:51 pm Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Although the proposed Polk County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) has been worked on for months, or years including work on the 20/20 vision plan, the document still needs work.
The need for more work on the UDO was evidenced by about 300 residents, mostly opposed to the document, who stated their concerns at Monday’s public hearing held at the Polk County High School auditorium.
Some said the document, which contains exactly 399 pages (including the cover page) is too complicated, with too many regulations. It is a difficult read for sure.
But actually, the proposed UDO is only about 60 pages longer than the county’s current ordinances, many of which are in effect in both zoned and unzoned townships.
Some would say that so many residents are upset about the UDO that commissioners should just vote against it and move on. But that won’t solve the problems that caused the county to work on combining and revising its ordinances to start with.
While some of the changes in the drafted UDO are more restrictive, such as the 25-percent slope regulations across the county for building, others lessen restrictions, such as the use table, which would allow more uses.
If commissioners vote the document down, the current mountain and ridgeline protection ordinance (MRPO), which restricts commercial development above 1,650 feet, including all of Saluda Township, will still be in effect. It was concern from Saluda residents that caused committee members to replace the elevation restriction with the slope restriction, which will affect the entire county, not just the zoned portions. Now residents in the unzoned portions of the county are saying that is zoning. It seems that county officials just can’t win in trying to protect the mountains and ridgelines.
Regardless, either the UDO needs to be adopted or current ordinances need to be amended. But neither should happen before commissioners go through the documents with a fine-toothed comb and make compromises in order to protect residents without causing hardships.
— Editorial staff,
Tryon Daily Bulletin

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