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Overflow Crowd Attends Land Use Hearing

The Monroe County Commissioners held the first of two public hearings on the county’s comprehensive land use plan Wednesday in a meeting that was delayed several times by order of the fire marshal. The courthouse meeting room holds 67 people at maximum capacity and more than once the crowd swelled well above that number causing commissioners to halt the meeting and ask for volunteers to step out of the room and into the hallway where an overflow crowd watched the meeting on a television. One of the most frequent topics of discussion revolved around the plan’s restriction of building on land with a 15 % or greater grade slope. Chamber of Commerce Spokesman Jim Shelton said that’s the kind of ruling that should be left to an ordinance.

” We think it would be a different number for different parts of the county. As you heard a number of people say here, we’ve been doing it above 15-percent for all this time and things aren’t awful. And in large parts of the county people think 15 % is flat,” Shelton said.

But Commissioner Mark Stoops said building flexibility into the plan puts county land in a vulnerable situation.

” Right now, some of the requirements in the current plan are vague and the ordinances are vague and so those are taken advantage of by some land speculators. I think the worst part of it is that really all of these laws are in order to protect us of somebody taking advantage of the situation and usually that’s for profit,” Stoops said.

Stoops said there is still time for concerns brought forth by citizens to be addressed before commissioners take a final vote on the plan in the spring.

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