While members of the Lincoln County Commission voted down a property maintenance amendment to its zoning resolution in July, this month’s meeting saw some officials do an about-face on the issue, this time approving the measure which restricts litter and inoperable vehicles in rural areas.
The amendment had failed in a 9 to 12 vote last month, but in the August session, it was approved in a 16 to 7 vote.
Reconsideration came about after Commissioner Stephanie Eady Britt, who voted opposed in July, made a motion that the amendment be reconsidered as she explained that she would like to change her vote. The amendment had been recommended for approval by county planners, and as discussion picked up Tuesday, officials noted that agricultural properties would be exempt from the amendment.
Substantial discussion followed as commissioners argued their points last week.
“I pretty much agreed with most of it,” said Commissioner Doug Cunningham, going on to say he disagreed with the stipulation that if your grass was more than a foot high, then you’d be in violation. Given rainy conditions and how such conditions can easily occur, he said he would like to see that max changed to two feet.
“First let me clarify something, we do not have the staff to drive up and down all the streets in Lincoln County,” said Nancy Harris, director of planning and zoning, going on to say that the office works strictly off of complaints. “... As far as the 12 inches, it’s understood that if you have conditions when you can’t mow, when it’s raining lot, that’s just common sense.
“We are inundated with calls daily from people complaining about litter blowing onto their property from their neighbors, their grass being so high that their kids can’t go out and play because there are snakes and rats ... Those are the types of calls that we would react on.”
“Nobody wants to see a bunch of junk vehicles out in someone’s yard and no one wants to see garbage piled up over the house, and I know there are some places that are like that,” said Commissioner Ricky Bryant. “But at the end of the day, this is the United States of America, and people own what they own ... It’s not that I disagree with it, but I think it will open the door to something else and then something else.”
Commissioner Ronald Jean said the lack of protection would likely deter developers from investing in projects here, such as new restaurants – “You can’t have it both ways,” he said. “If you want retail sales and restaurants, you’ve got to have some type of zoning, or they’re not coming.”
Commissioner Steve Guntherberg agreed, saying the issue could also be a deterrent to individuals looking to purchase residential property within the county.
“There’s no excuse for filthiness, none,” he said. “Now, if there’s somebody in here that wants to disagree with me on that, then I’ll bring my garbage and pile it in your yard and see how you like it. That’s where I stand – I’m all for this.”
Commissioners changing their vote from “no” last month to “yes” this month, were Jack Atchley, Steve Spray, Doug Cunningham, and Stephanie Eady Britt. In addition, Tori Young and Roger Martinez Jr., who were absent last month, voted in favor of the amendment this month.
Keeping with their “no” votes were Commissioners David Sanders, Darren Walker, Ben Brown, John Thorpe, Randy Bradford, Ricky Bryant, and Darren Holland. And sticking with their “yes” votes were Commissioners Grady Reavis, Kate Guin, Mark Mitchell, Shirley Dangerfield, Anthony Taylor, Steve Guntherberg, Glen Douglas, Ronald Jean, and Donny Ogle.
Charles Hunter, who was absent last month, also voted yes, and Steve Graham, who voted no last month, was absent this month.