Ordinances rescinded

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After hearing from opponents of the recently enacted county ordinances involving horse-drawn vehicles on county roads, the Switzerland County Commissioners have rescinded two of the three ordinances that they passed earlier – and adjusted the third.

The ordinance involving the requirement of softer metal horseshoes and the ordinance requiring a mechanism to catch manure were both rescinded by the commissioners at their meeting on January 22nd.

The third portion of the ordinance, which involves licensing horse drawn vehicles, remains, but the commissioners dropped the yearly licensing fee from $40 down to $25.

The licensing is still tentatively set to go into effect on March 1st.

“As commissioners we’re all three in positions where we all have difficult things to deal with,” Commissioner Brian Morton said. “We try and make the best decisions that we can. Based on people talking to us over the past couple of years and researching how other counties handled horse drawn vehicles on their roads, we tried to make a decision that was best for everyone.

“Now, after listening to the community, we have decided that maybe this wasn’t the best thing to do here. That’s why I made the motion to take the fee down to $25 and do away with the other ordinances.”

Brian Morton said that there have been large crowds at recent commissioners’ meeting to discuss this issue, and the commissioners have been very willing to listen to the public – and made the changes in the ordinances based on public input.

“We try and do everything we can to make everybody happy,” Brian Morton said. “Unfortunately we can’t always do that.”

County auditor Rachel Bladen said that the commissioners’ decision was based on listening to both sides of the issue. After hearing complaints about the horses on the roadways, once the ordinances were passed it was supporters of the horse-drawn vehicles who spoke with the commissioners.

“So many people complained about the horses, but then they didn’t show up to the meeting.” Rachel Bladen said. “There was room for compromise, and the commissioners listened to what everyone had to say and made the best decision with the information that they had.”

Rachel Bladen said that the commissioners had agreed to try a finer grade of metal for the horseshoes, but after studying that, it was clear that it wasn’t going to work and couldn’t be enforced.

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With the horse ordinances now off the table, the commissioners are now looking at whether or not to approve the establishing of a concrete plant in the county.

At Monday’s meeting, the commissioners spent the first hour listening to all of the complaints about safety, health, noise, and environmental issues that citizens had if a concrete plant was allowed to be put in the county.

The site at this time is on State Road 156 just west of Tapps Ridge Road, and many citizens were concerned about the curve in the roadway near the proposed site, and the danger that trucks going in and out of the site may pose to other traffic.

Rachel Bladen said that the concrete company estimated that there would be 20-24 trips in and out of the site each day.

“A lot of people talked about the number of accidents that have happened between Plum Creek and Tapps Ridge,” Rachel Bladen said. “There was a real concern over what might happen with the added traffic.”

There was also some support for allowing the concrete plant, as some in the meeting reminded the commissioners that concrete is found in nearly every structure, so there is a good future for such a business.

The commissioners made no decision at Monday’s meeting, but tabled the matter until their next meeting, which will take place on February 19th at 8:30 a.m. The meeting is open to the public, and will be held in the basement meeting room of the Switzerland County Courthouse.

“I think we need to see a little bit more then just a 10-page booklet before making a big decision like this,” commissioner Brian Morton said.