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The Lake News Online
  • Looking forward Camden County: Greg Hasty of unifying P&Z

  • Planning and zoning has been a hot topic in Camden County for several months, but in reality has been an ongoing issue for years. The incidences of controversy are so many and various that it's hard to get your mind around the problems to explain them, let alone fix them.
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  • Planning and zoning has been a hot topic in Camden County for several months, but in reality has been an ongoing issue for years. The incidences of controversy are so many and various that it's hard to get your mind around the problems to explain them, let alone fix them.  
    Implementation of the regulations on development within the lake district has been a challenge from its conceptual approval by voters in 1997 to the much later inception of the actual Unified Land Use Code in 2004 and beyond.
    In its relatively short life span, Camden County P&Z has been through multiple directors. The county has poured tens of thousands of dollars and unknown man hours into attempts to implement it, fix it and fix it some more, yet always seeming to miss the mark.
    What the candidates for Camden County presiding commissioner say: From ballooning legal costs to disagreements about fees, the planning and zoning office has been at the center of bad press this year. Is there a remedy for this? What do you plan to do, if elected, to bring unity of purpose to planning and zoning in the county?
    Challenger Greg Hasty says:
    “From the beginning, Camden County planning and zoning has been the center of controversy in our county. The administration prepared maps for the planning district that were full of errors. Then, they downloaded a land use code book from Franklin County, and rushed headlong into lawsuit after lawsuit.
     “Years ago, a series of meetings were held with a group concerned with the impact of the new land use code on property owners. This group consisted of professional REALTORS, title companies, engineers, builders, surveyors, bankers and other knowledgeable professionals. The members of this group were experts in their fields. They were almost completely ignored. We’ve had nothing but trouble since then.
     “The first planning administrator attempted to get around the shortcomings of the land use code by sidestepping the letter of the code. The second administrator, hired by Mr. Franken, began the period of selective enforcement. As a land surveyor, dealing with many clients, I have seen every client dealt with differently. Here are just a few examples.
     “The owners of Sugarloaf Winery were given a list of requirements to meet for approval of their project. When they completed those, more requirements were heaped on. The target just kept moving. They endured months of abuse, as well as legal fees.
     “A builder was given a variance by Mr. Franken himself, and the fee was waived. This is case no 13-036 dated February 11, 2013. This was done by Mr. Franken personally, and not by a vote of the Commissioners.
    Page 2 of 2 -  “Teresa Townsend apparently didn’t have the same pull. She was charged fees twice for starting a small addition to her building. Apparently she had not paid the appropriate fees and secured the necessary permits. When she complained, Mr. Franken ordered her escorted from the courthouse. However, a major developer was building a ten million dollar project, and somehow they “slipped through the cracks” and began construction with over $44,000 in unpaid fees. You only have two choices here. This is either incredible incompetence, or malfeasance.
    “If Camden County continues on this path, there will be more lawsuits to come.
    “My plan to fix the problems with Camden County Planning and Zoning will start with a complete review of the zoning district maps. I’m a professional surveyor, and can do that personally. We don’t need to find out about un-zoned properties after the fact again.
     “Secondly, we need to call for special hearings regarding our Unified Land Use Code. We need those professionals from our lake to do a comprehensive review of every page. I believe we need a website so that citizens and professionals as well can help us identify problems. We need citizen involvement to establish a ULC with rules that the members of the Planning District have decided on.
     “Finally, the special favors and cronyism must be stopped. Our citizens have a right to expect equal treatment by their government. If elected, I will make sure, whatever the rules are, that they will apply equally to everyone.”
     
     

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