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Rezoning program misses its deadline

August 16, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY - It's been more than a year since the Washington County Commissioners narrowly approved a rezoning plan that limited the development potential of more than 250,000 rural acres.

It's two weeks past an Aug. 1 deadline the County Commissioners set to create a program that would compensate landowners for possible lost equity as a result of the rezoning plan.

The deadline was one of the conditions the commissioners set upon approving the plan.

Clear Spring farmer Gerald Ditto questioned during a meeting last week whether the rural rezoning vote still stands, since the condition has not been met.

The county says "yes."

"That upsets me ...," Ditto said, saying the commissioners were deciding which votes they wanted to comply with and which ones they did not.

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The minutes of the July 12, 2005, meeting, during which the commissioners approved the rural rezoning plan by a 3-2 vote, state the vote was approved with six conditions.

One of the conditions states, "A TDR (transferable development rights) program, bonus density or similar agricultural preservation program will be developed and presented to the Commissioners by August 1, 2006, to allow additional development potential in designated areas deemed appropriate for development and provide compensation for land use designated for agricultural easements."

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and Commissioners James F. Kercheval and Doris J. Nipps approved the plan.

Commissioner Vice President William J. Wivell and Commissioner John C. Munson voted against it.

Assistant County Attorney Kirk Downey said Tuesday that the vote is still valid, even though a compensation program is not in place.

He said there are no sunset provisions on the amendments to the zoning ordinance, which was changed so the new rural zoning regulations could take effect.

He said the Aug. 1 deadline was a date the commissioners set for staff "to try and keep things moving."

Downey said the county is in the process of considering a consultant to work on a compensation program. Staffers are evaluating proposals received from consultants, and the matter could be brought before the commissioners on Aug. 22 or Aug. 29, he said.

Snook apologized for not having a program developed by the Aug. 1 deadline.

"Sorry about that. We're a little late, and we're still working on that," Snook said.

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