County Commissioners send ordinance back for changes

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With a crowd of nearly 100 residents in attendance, the Switzerland County Commissioners on Monday voted to send the controversial planning and zoning ordinance back to the Area Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals.

County Commissioner K.C. Banta said that several items found in the ordinance were things that the commissioners felt needed to be looked at more closely, and changed, before moving forward.

At the heart of the meeting was the section of the proposed ordinance that required the county building inspector to inspect and sign off on any piece of property in the county before it could be sold or transferred from one landowner to another.

The proposal was included in the ordinance in an effort to find a way to make landowners clean up their property, which, in turn, would increase land values for everyone in the county.

The ordinance allowed the building inspector to levy fines if improvements weren’t made; and also allowed for a three-member appeals board to hear landowners who didn’t want to comply with the order.

But at Monday’s meeting the large, vocal crowd, told the commissioners that something needed to be done.

“The section about inspection of property when it sells, I don’t think that needs to be in there,” Commissioner Banta said. “Now if there’s a problem with the neighbors, then we have to find a way to deal with it. Some places definitely need to be cleaned up.”

K.C. Banta said that in his motion to send the ordinance back to planning and zoning, which was approved by fellow commissioners Craig Bond and Brian Morton, the commissioners are hoping that some of the people who voiced their objections at Monday’s meeting can provide input on how the ordinance could be enacted for everyone’s benefit.

“I think we’d like to see some of the people from our meeting get involved and help change things, and then bring it back to us toned down and workable,” K.C. Banta said. “Because we’ve got to have something.”

Commissioner Banta said that he and his fellow commissioners agree with trying to find measures to enforce planning and zoning ordinances, noting that junk cars and improper sewage systems are at the top of the list of things that need to be dealt with.

“We are very much interested in finding ways to make landowners comply with our laws and ordinances, because that benefits everyone,” K.C. Banta said. “But some things in there are ridiculous. We sent the whole thing back and we are asking them to go through it, tweak it, clean some things out that are ridiculous, and still have something in there that protects all landowners.”

The next meeting of the Area Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled for Wednesday, February 17th, at 6 p.m. in the basement meeting room of the Switzerland County Courthouse.