The Lake News Online
  • Commissioner candidates trade volleys over P&Z

  • Planning and zoning continues to be at the epicenter of Camden County politics in 2014 as the campaign for presiding commissioner heats up.
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  • Planning and zoning continues to be at the epicenter of Camden County politics in 2014 as the campaign for presiding commissioner heats up.
    Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken faces challenger Greg Hasty in the Aug. 4, Republican primary. Despite more than four months of campaigning ahead, planning and zoning has already become the focal point. Franken and Hasty have differing views on planning and zoning.
    In a campaign letter from the incumbent Franken dated March 11, Franken alleges  challenger Greg Hasty's "sole platform is the elimination of Planning and Zoning."
    Franken says recorded comments from an online podcast back up his claim. In contrast,  Hasty said Franken is "grossly misrepresenting" his position on the issue.
    According to Franken, he has received recordings of the show from individual supporters who monitor his opponent's campaign activities.
    Franken said his claims are documented.
    In these recordings from November 2013, Franken said both Hasty and Associate County Commissioner Cliff Luber indicated they think the entire program should be suspended. In Franken's opinion, suspension is the first step toward getting rid of the program.
    The recordings also reportedly include the statement that Hasty and Luber would fire P&Z Administrator Don Hathaway. At this point the Lake Sun has not listened to the podcast during which that comment was allegedly made. Therefore, the Lake Sun can't verify the allegation.
    However, since November, Hathaway has resigned from his position on his own, citing harassment by Luber.
    Just this week, Hathaway released a statement regarding some of the issues raised by Luber and his "followers" and accuses them of a campaign of "misinformation" against himself, Franken and others in an attempt to support Hasty's bid for office.
    Luber is known to participate in the online podcast with Hasty as both he and Hasty discuss and typically concur on county issues.
    Hasty says that he has never said or thought that planning and zoning should be done away with or suspended.
    "Nothing could be further from the truth," Hasty says. "I have been a member of the Camdenton Planning and Zoning Board for a decade. I have worked hard to see that the rules of that board have been applied correctly and fairly. I am not opposed to planning and zoning, I am opposed to the way county planning and zoning has been so badly mishandled by the current presiding commissioner."
    Along those lines in a podcast from four months ago independently found and reviewed by the Lake Sun, Hasty discusses the need to overhaul P&Z and says he would immediately call for hearings to come up with a book (master plan and code) with input from citizens that would preserve the "nature of the lake we have now."
    Page 2 of 3 - Luber also participates in the program as a "first time caller."
    Hasty gave a lengthy explanation of his position during the podcast.
    He says, "... Lake Ozark, they started growing, and Osage Beach was almost non-existent back then, and the growth that took place first precipitated the necessary infrastructure and after that came the rules and regulations. I don't think you can put in these stiff rigid rules and regulations in an outlying area and expect it to grow. You're going to cut off that economy if you do that and that's exactly what's taking place and it's destroying our growth."
    Later in the podcast, Hasty adds, "The Climax Springs area, the Macks Creek area, the Stoutland area — we need them to have the same opportunity for growth as the areas that are now Horseshoe Bend, Lake Ozark and Osage Beach. When I first started surveying, Osage Beach was a wide spot in the road and quite frankly, the majority of the Osage Beach development took place and the growth took place with no planning and zoning rules in place — eventually they got them after they had a sewer system and all those other things. But the growth that took place was unrestricted, unfettered growth and Osage Beach looks pretty good today."
    Hasty now says, "We are a first class county and obviously need planning and zoning. My position has been the same all along. We still need regulations but they need to be built around protecting the environment."
    He points to his experience as a licensed real estate broker and licensed Professional Land Surveyor as the basis of his planning and zoning positions.
    "I know how this is supposed to work and I pledge to make planning and zoning a value to the county rather than the source of discord and litigation it has become under my opponent," Hasty says. "My opponent would do better to stick to the facts and be prepared to defend his own pitiful record on planning and zoning. He has been instrumental is putting the whole system at risk."
    Franken says he has been trying to work on redoing the Unified Land Use Code which governs P&Z since he got into office, but that he has faced opposition every time he tries to do something.
    "They say they want to redo it but oppose it every time I try to move forward with a motion on it," says Franken. "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. If they want to fix it, fix it. I've indicated from the beginning that I'm open to any kind of suggestions for change. I've offered to set up a meeting and have a conversation about it, but nobody has ever taken us up on that."
    Page 3 of 3 - Modifications to Article 400 on building permits were implemented two years ago under Franken's leadership of the county. There was also an attempt to toughen Article 600 on enforcement which was indefinitely tabled after opposition — largely from members of the Lake Area Conservative Club of which Luber is a known member. Most recently, Franken has asked the planning commission to consider changes to Article 800 which covers zoning districts, conditional use permits and planned unit developments.
    Luber has been vocal in his opposition to Franken's methodology. Luber has taken issue during discussions on the proposed revisions saying they were improperly introduced to the planning commission as it was not done through one commissioner rather than a vote of the county commission — refusing to accept from Hathaway that P&Z Attorney Ryan Harding said that the introduction by Franken alone was acceptable.
    Franken says he has been focused first on revising the code as it is what affects people every day — the "front line" for what governs permits and land development — but that he agrees that the master plan, redone shortly before his tenure, needs to be revamped.
    "But you can't have all of this going on at once. You have to do it incrementally. It's just going to be another train wreck if you try to do it all at once. It's better to address the code first and ease up on requirements on the development portion, then move on to the master plan. Otherwise you put the whole thing in peril," Franken said.
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