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The Lake News Online
  • Heated discussions expected in Planning and Zoning changes

  • A standing room only crowd is expected to turn out for an upcoming planning and zoning meeting in Camden County to discuss the proposed changes to the land use code.
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  • A standing room only crowd is expected to turn out for an upcoming planning and zoning meeting in Camden County to discuss the proposed changes to the land use code.
    The Camden County Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m. on the third floor of the Camden County Courthouse. The hearing is to open the floor up to discussion on revisions to the land use code, in particular the section that deals with penalties for violations of the planning and zoning regulations. The proposed changes are not expected to be well received by some residents who feel the planning and zoning commission is going too far.
    Camden County planning and zoning director Don Hathaway said the changes are an effort to bring about  changes in the way the commission handles violations and avoid expensive court cases  in the future. That will in turn reduce the cost of compliance to taxpayers.  
    "Section 604 has been revised to include increased specific notice of violations requirements and in the event of continued violation, a hearing process has been added to review the case facts with the county commissioners," he said.
    The revisions include per day penalties upon finding of violation by the county commission or conviction of a violation of the land use code.
    Camden County Associate Commissioner Cliff Luber has been outspoken about his objections to the changes.
    Luber is against an increase in penalties and thinks the present form of Article 600 is too harsh. For him, it all boils down to a lack of communication between the board and the people they are representing.
    "You have a planning and zoning board that represents eleven townships and there is absolutely no dialogue between the board and the people in those townships," Luber said.
    The new revisions include a portion that regulates "nuisances." Luber does not agree with this addition and says that it adds to the ambiguous nature of the article.
    Although Luber is not completely opposed to the revisions, he does believe the board needs to move cautiously.
    "You give them an inch and they take a mile," Luber said. "There has to be respect for private property rights."
    Hathaway expects a crowd on Wednesday evening and hopes the input gives the commissioners the tools they need to make a final decision.
    He said the goal for planning and zoning is to bring greater public awareness to the benefits of compliance with the various laws and regulations of the federal, state, and  local county government with respect to land development and land use. 
    "Our goal is to permit development that is considerate of the local conditions and environmental issues facing this unique and sensitive lake area we live in, and be mindful of the existing residents property rights and desires to shape our community," Hathaway said.
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