Monday, August 17, 2009

City Slickers

So said Karen McDonald, JS reporter quoting me as saying "It is no secret that this county board is made up of 'city slickers', a term we farmers used when we were described by city folks as 'hayseeds', 'he just fell off the turnip truck' and other less friendly monikers. Karen was describing my comments when 70 people from Hallock Township (previously 100 names from Hallock Twp. had been submitted in opposition to some of the actual or perceived restrictions in the revised land use plan) showed up to ask that some changes be made before the board voted on a new Comprehensive County Land Use Plan. I said, "It is very difficult for me to say that this is the right plan to do right now" (tonight) after Board member Brian Elsasser moved to delay the vote for further study until the October full board meeting. His motion, seconded by myself, failed.

Bob Baietto added that this plan was approved by committee and it should be approved now. Bob's reasoning was that it was approved by committee deserves a little more scrutiny. The committee was made up of a diverse group of 15 people. When the committee voted to approve the plan only 10 of the 15 showed up to vote. The vote was taken and approved by an 8-2 vote to recommend passage by the full County Board. I surmised that if five didn't feel strongly enough about passage and 2 actually opposed passage by their vote, that made it appear that the vote was actually 8 yeas and 7 nays. Combined with the fact that seventy people showed up asking for further consideration for the plan, I do not feel that this plan, the first of it's kind in the state, I'm told, could not have been put off for two months.

All in attendance agreed we want to have "smart growth". The term, while sounding good, is always debatable as to its meaning. One Hallock dissenter, Ron Noe, was mis-quoted as saying that "residents want to build anywhere without being forced to go through county channels". What was said was that residents want smart growth in Environmental Corridors, corridors protected from destruction by over-development, without going through restrictions and controls which e felt, were not really plans.

My feelings were that when the vote for any plan is that close, five committee members didn't even show up to vote, it sure appears to me that these five shouldn't have been on the committee, when 70 protesters, this number not even mentioned by the JS reporter, took the time and effort to appear before the full board, that the full board should hear more of the dialogue that went on in Comprehensive Land Planning Committee meetings.

Now that the plan has passed, we will see. If Hallock Township builders run into what they deem to be unreasonable County Planning and Zoning road-blocks, if these people make their reasoning available to board members like myself, their voices will be heard. On the final vote, I supported the position of Planning and Zoning and the Land Use Chairperson and the majority of the board. We will see what transpires over the next few years.

We all hope that the plan, somewhat similair to one last worked out in 1992 and amended in 1996, is beneficial to the whole county. After all, the overwhelming majority of voters want to see Peoria County grow in a reasonably planned manner.

On the other hand, not all counties are created equal and not all majorities (and committees) have gotten everything right. Just look locally and to Springfield or D.C.

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