Status quo stand to win
If the zoning ordinance being prepared by the Morgan County Planning Commission is based on the Draft Zoning Study which, as it currently stands, fosters rapid growth and high density development, it could be rejected by voters at the Zoning Ordinance referendum. In that case, the status quo, also with few limitations on large developers, would prevail.
Therefore, in either case, because the Planning Commission acted as a handmaiden for large developers by furthering their interests, it would be a certain win for developers and a losing situation for the people of Morgan County.
We need an uncomplicated, practical zoning ordinance that will protect the current residents of the county by fostering “smart growth” that provides for low density, controlled development.
The anti-zoning contends that zoning will restrict the freedom of land owners and home owners to decide what to do with their property. While it is true that without zoning large land owners may make a “killing” on the sale of their land, smaller land and home owners will experience reduced property values because of large developments. In fact, zoning will protect the existing values of land owning, home owning and businesses by preventing rampant development.
Another reason we need sensible zoning is that state law requires that a zoning ordinance be adopted before impact fees can be assessed on new construction. At this time it is impossible to determine the new capital and operating costs related to new infrastructure, schools, fire and police services, parks and recreation facilities, and other costs resulting from new construction (as in already planned developments with approximately 2,000 new units with more than 5,000 residents).
Without impact fees, the burden of these costs shift to county government, resulting in significant increases in property taxes for existing land and home owners and businesses. It is equitable and just that the above costs resulting from new residential and commercial construction be, at least, partially covered by impact fees. As a Ph.D. economist who has taught economics at three universities and has had his own economic consulting firm, I can assure you that the additional costs will be substantial.
David S. Schwartz