Zoning laws questioned by area resident

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   A Stoney Creek community resident questioned the county's commitment to enforcing zoning laws at the Carter County Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday.
   "I want them to enforce the laws," said Billy Smith, a resident of the Carter community in Stoney Creek.
   Smith said litter and junkyards had besmirched the county's landscape and questioned why the county was often slow to act to enforce private acts and public zoning.
   "We've been trying to correct these problems," said Commission Chairman Bob Hughes. "We can't control litter county-wide. We have neither the financial backing from the county to do that.
   "We do have a vision that if the county has the funds to do that, to have a litter control law and someone to enforce it."
   The county's 2nd, 4th and 6th Districts opted out of county-wide zoning regulations, which set required building permits and site approval by the planning department.
   Private county acts regulating junkyards and trailer parks are effective in districts that do not comply with county-wide zoning.
   Commissioner Jerry Pearman said the county had taken warrants for "eight to 10" violators cited by the planning commission for zoning violations in June. Citizens summoned for property violations are scheduled to appear in Sessions Court on July 31.
   Hughes said if residents in zoned districts sought to make property improvements, they had to obtain a building permit from the county planning office.
   "The permit doesn't cost anything. It is for us to know where the project is and what it's doing," he said.
   "Anything already established before passing through the county commission is established as 'grandfathered,'" explained Hughes. "It doesn't change the existing property in those districts.
   "It changes anything in the future someone wants to do to that property."
   Hughes also acknowledged that some county residents, "Are not willing to accept any rule or regulation of any sort for themselves or anyone else.
   "In Carter County right now, we have the greatest opportunity of anyone to advance, but to advance forward you have to have the full cooperation of all the people," Hughes added.
   The commission also voted unanimously to grant final approval of the Bear Estates, Phase II subdivision. The subdivision property -- owned by Don and Debra Thomas -- is located off Pierce Town Road near Watauga Lake.