Bad zoning can be worse than no zoning. That is the title of a paper from Michigan State University in February of 2012. The newest commissioners are being lead/pushed by Karen Howard and others to ignore the 100s of citizens speaking against zoning their property and the recommendation of the majority of the planning board (PB). The residents and the PB have recommended that no zoning be implemented west of Hwy 87 until the comprehensive land use plan is complete and we know what the long term impacts might be.
The Michigan State University paper says what many of us have been trying to convey to the commissioners for a long time; "have a plan before you zone". Without a comprehensive plan, zoning for the sake of zoning can have long term detrimental impacts on our community. Commissioners Howard, Hales, and Crawford have just awarded a $319,000 contract to a consultant to develop such a plan. They initially told us it would "only" be a quarter of a million dollars, but that's a topic for another day. For some reason they want to simultaneously move forward without it. This makes no sense and is major intrusion into property rights.
A perfect example of how bad zoning is worse than no zoning is Jacksonville, Fl. Jacksonville is about 800 square miles, similar to Chatham's 707 sq. miles. They have implemented all the "proper" zoning to protect their citizens including density limitations, residential zones, neighborhood commercial, and commercial, yet studies show that Jacksonville is one of the most automobile dependent cities (read sprawl and pollution) in the entire country.
WE CAN DO BETTER! I think $319,000 in taxpayer money is entirely too much to pay a consultant, but if we are going to spend it, let's at least see what they have to say before we start changing our zoning and the ordinances that go along with it.
Reliable democratic sources tell me they will move forward with this ill conceived initiative of county-wide zoning unless the citizens demand they listen to those directly impacted and wait for the high priced consultants to finish their work.