Local Control Loses Again – Commentary by Frank Gillispie 6/03/11
I share Sen. Glenn's disappointment in the decision by Governor Deal to veto his legislation ending the requirement for counties to develop and
maintain extensive planning documents. As a witness to Madison County's planning program from the beginning, I question whether the benefits of
the plan justify the amount of expense and effort that went into it. I also question the right of the state and federal governments to dictate
local policy. Such decisions belong to "we the people," and I oppose such imposed mandates.
When the State of Georgia launched the community planning program, Madison County was chosen to be one of the first to complete their plan. State
officials watched over the process with care, providing technical assistance (at a cost of course) and provided guidance at each step. Once a
comprehensive plan, that included plans from each city in the county, was completed and approved, our plan was circulated among other counties to
show how it should be done.
So, how has Madison County benefited from the plan? The document led to our current planning and zoning program. That's right. The demand that you
go to a government planning board to get approval for almost any changes or additions to your property is a direct result of the plan.
Decisions of where to build infrastructure is a component of the plan. For example, the recently completed commercial waste water treatment facility
in the Dogsboro area was designed to fit the plan. It was a completion of the infrastructure plan that put the county's first water system in the same
area. The idea was to promote development in the area of the county nearest Athens while leaving much of the remainder of the county for farms and
rural areas. The hope of the planners is to direct commercial and residential developments into the Hull-Dogsboro area.
The infrastructure building is under the authority of the Madison County Industrial Authority, and is financed primarily by loans and grants from
state and federal agencies. Much of it must eventually be paid back.
The Industrial Authority hopes that new commercial buildings and sales tax revenues will cover the loans, but that is not assured. The water and
sewage fees currently being collected do not come close. And the difference will have to be made up with increased property taxes.
Maybe it will all work out and new businesses will swarm into the area. But other than the planned expansion of Ingles, few signs of any expansion
are present. And probably will not show up until our national and state economic problems are solved, if they ever are.
Meanwhile, we the voters of Madison County have very little to say about the expense, the additional traffic, the need for more schools and other
forced growth that the plan will create. It may all be good. It may be what the people of the county want. But I would be much more comfortable
if we are given more opportunities to say so.
Copyright © 2011 by Frank Gillispie
email@example.com, Hull, GA
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