Commissioners speak following UDO public hearing

Published 7:02 pm Thursday, September 20, 2012

Commissioner Tom Pack said the section regarding requirements on building at slopes of 25 percent or greater in the county will be cost-prohibitive.
“I think it’s going to cost Polk County a lot of jobs,” Pack said. “Where are you going to build your house? Your neighbors are not going to be able to afford to live here.”
Pack also said there is no growth in Polk County and it’s the people that are left who are going to be paying for this.
He said he disagrees with section 1.8.3 and said the administrator should have to receive a regular search warrant to search someone’s property.
“This is a bad document from start to finish,” said Pack.
Commissioner chair Ray Gasperson discussed the hundreds of volunteer hours spent on the UDO and the many meetings and give and take that he saw occur in the process. He mentioned that volunteers came from all parts of the county and from various backgrounds.
“I’m concerned if we’re not careful we’re going to disregard – God forbid, trash – a document that has been worked on many, many years,” he said.
Commissioner vice-chair Renée McDermott read a prepared statement about the UDO. McDermott said it was clear from the comments made that the public has been given a great deal of misinformation about the UDO. McDermott said people have been told she wrote the UDO or most of it and that’s not true – she wrote none of it.
She said people have been told that section 4.1.1 dealing with inspections would allow county officials to go against people’s constitutional rights and that’s not true. Regardless of what the section said, county officials are always bound by state and federal constitutions, including the Fourth Amendment, which protects us against improper searches and seizures, she said. She also said commissioner Pack suggested removing the section and she motioned to delete it and the motion passed unanimously, so section 4.1.1 will not be in the UDO.
McDermott said people have been told that if any part of your land has a slope of 25 percent or more you can’t use your land for any purpose.
“Not true,” her statement said. “It doesn’t stop construction, even if the slope is 50 percent or more. What the slopes are on the lot as a whole means nothing. It’s just the slope right where the building is proposed to take place, the building and grading envelope.”

McDermott’s statement also explained what zoning is, saying people have been told that having the steep slopes article apply to the whole county means it’s zoning the entire county.
“People have put up signs saying ‘UDO is stealth zoning,’” said McDermott. “Not true. Zoning deals with the uses that you can make of your land. Can you put a gas station on it? A store? A used car lot? And so on. I don’t know of one single use of land in White Oak or Coopers Gap Township that can be done today that will not be able to be done if the UDO passes.”

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