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The Lake News Online
  • Looking forward Camden County: Kris Franken on 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?
    Incumbent Kris Franken says:
    “Planning and Zoning came into existence in Camden County in 1998 when it was approved by a majority vote of the people who lived in the proposed District. It was the voice and action of the people that initiated it, not an order from an elected official. The program can only be terminated by a vote of the people and likewise, the only way that the boundaries of the Planning and Zoning District can be changed is by a ballot initiative. It is the law of Camden County and should be implemented and funded in good faith. Like most programs, it is not perfect. It needs work.
    “In my first term, I have worked to improve it. We were able to modify Article 400 of the code that reduced the paperwork and expense of getting a building permit. This has saved the citizens of Camden County tens of thousands of dollars since the change went into effect. In my opinion, Article 800 is the next section that needs to be addressed. I have compiled a list of changes that I believe need to be made, and hopefully the Planning Commission will be willing to take up the tenuous task of that revision. Responsible revision of the code requires input from a cross section of the community that is truly interested in improving it, not destroying it or rendering it ineffective.
    “The day to day operations of the Planning and Zoning program are overseen by the Planning Administrator. The County Commission should not get involved in the day to day operation of the office unless there is a problem or a situation arises that requires a unique solution. When these situations arise, I like to work for the quickest, most common sense solution possible, and I can assure you that any decisions that I have been involved in regarding Planning and Zoning have been fair and have not shown any favoritism to anyone. They were solutions to unique issues that had arisen and were resolved.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It should be noted that the Planning and Zoning Department only determines uses of property and permits footprints of buildings. It is not a building code enforcement department. Building codes, where enforced in Camden County, are administered by fire districts or municipalities. The County has zero involvement or authority over these programs, but we strive to work cooperatively with them when necessary. In the actual permitting process, the County only checks the location of the proposed building on the lot to make sure that it meets the setbacks for the zoning district it is located in.
    “If re-elected, I will continue to improve the Planning and Zoning program and County operations in general. I will continue to work to make the best decisions for Camden County. I will continue to get things done. My past performance has shown that I am capable of providing the leadership and forward progress that is expected by the citizens of Camden County. Let’s work together for the next four years.”
     

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