Planning board holds off vote on MRPO within UDO

Published 4:32 pm Monday, October 15, 2012

Polk County planning board members decided to use as many of their allotted 45 days as possible to decide whether or not to rescind the Mountain Ridgeline Protection Ordinance within the county’s Unified Development Ordinance.
“We want this to work for the whole county,” said planning board chair Lisa Krolach.
Three of the five Polk County commissioners voted Monday, Oct. 1 to recommend the Polk County Planning Board rescind the Mountain Ridgeline Protection Ordinance.
Commissioners Ted Owens, Tom Pack and Ray Gasperson voted to make the recommendation, while Renee McDermott and Cindy Walker voted against doing so. McDermott and Walker voted no saying the vote in general was against commission rules because the item was added to the agenda that evening.
Residents spoke in favor and against rescinding MRPO Oct. 11.
Resident Bill Smith urged them to keep MRPO in place.
“Polk County is a scenic area – that’s one of our strong points,” Smith said. “Most owners who come and say, “Well I want a castle on top of the mountain, they are not trained in any kind of slope stability, they are just looking out at the view and say, ‘Oh, isn’t this nice?’”
Planning Board member Susan Welch said she didn’t want to see all protections lost although she did feel the current ordinance affected Saluda more so than the rest of the county.
“To me it’s very important to either keep this in place or look at qualifications that are acceptable to make sure we have some protections in place,” Welch said.
Saluda resident Hal Green said he felt Article 24 of the MRPO focused on building standards, while Article 25 was only considering aesthetics.
“What I would suggest is start with [Article] 24 and look at the existing building standards as applied. If there are any defects address them, however if the building code as it is applied here in Polk County works, then I suggest not mess with it,” Green said.
Planning board members David Smith and Bill Ennis agreed that Article 24 of the ordinance should be their focus.
Discussing the most contentious points, members agreed they needed to focus on issues related to MRPO’s countywide affect, the 25 percent slope and building restrictions related to fire code.
County attorney Mike Eagan said the state Protective Mountain Ridge Act attempts to identify elevation levels where issues arise. But he said the board could do better by determining what the view sheds are they want to specifically protect and go from there.
Eagan, Smith and Ennis plan to hash out ideas in relation to Article 24 of MRPO and bring those suggestions back to the board.
The board will hold a workshop Monday, Oct. 22 at 5 p.m. to further discuss where to go from here.

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