Zoning frustrations continue in various voting districts

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff

Wildfires might be under control in California, but flames are just beginning to rise in Carter County over county-wide zoning. The land use plan passed the County Commission meeting Oct. 20 with a 15-8 vote.
   Before the votes were tallied, many citizens in the Roan Mountain district voiced their concerns. The battle is on again between government officials and the citizens, who are calling themselves, The Carter County Citizens In Action (CCCIA).
   According to Mike Shotkosky, CCCIA vice president, "Basically, we feel we were zoned illegally."
   Citing TCA codes, the CCCIA has filed a petition for a judicial review of the county's growth plan in Chancery Court, and Shotkosky hopes to hear from the court on Monday. Although the group does not have an attorney who represents them, according to Shotkosky, they have sought advice from lawyers in the matter.
   County Mayor Dale Fair told Shotkosky on Wednesday that county-wide zoning passed in a legal and fair manner. "I disagree," Shotkosky said.
   The group has been gathering each Tuesday evening at Cloudland High School to decide a "plan of action." This past Tuesday, Shotkosky said approximately 80 people attended the meeting. Another meeting is scheduled for Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.
   The CCCIA is also concerned that citizens were not allowed enough time to learn about zoning. He stated that even some commissioners at the Oct. 20 meeting admitted to not completely reading through the zoning ordinance.
   "Several commissioners said they didn't have maps. Some of them didn't feel comfortable voting. How can you make a decision when you're not prepared," questioned Shotkosky.
   Shotkosky added that the Roan Mountain area survived 207 years without "these types of regulations, and everybody has gotten along just fine."
   Planning Director Chris Schuettler said, "Zoning is a just a good planning tool you have to utilize. It doesn't increase property taxes. It doesn't cause monetary displacement for individuals. We can help the homeowners, builders, or developers as far as building correctly and meeting all criteria for the state and federal government. We have always been here to help, even before zoning."
   The group is also questioning the county's stormwater ordinance and subdivision regulations.
   Schuettler said, "The stormwater ordinance is federally mandated. The subdivision regulations that they are against have been around since 1972, since the creation of the Planning Commission. It is mandated by the state. Stormwater is mandated by the federal government and enforced by the state."
   "Even prior to the zoning going into effect county-wide, we had two private acts that we utilized," Schuettler said. "One was for mobile homes and the other was for junkyards. You're looking at all these regulations that come through this office and zoning is just one of many. Flood zoning has been in since 1978; its driven by federal government."
   "It needs to be clarified out there. (The) zoning resolution is not all the ordinances that come through the county. We've got zoning, litter laws, stormwater - and all those are driven by upper echelon and down. The people of Carter County are the people that drove the litter ordinance in.
   Schuettler added, "Remember people came in fussing about stuff and then we finally have a mechanism to utilize to clean some of this stuff up. And it's working. Some of it is slow, but it is working."
   "Whether it is subdivision among heirs. It is the same for me as it is for anyone out there. It is still subdividing it. Zoning isn't here nor there, as far as subdivision."
   Schuettler said that even if Carter County did not have a zoning ordinance, property division among heirs would still occur and be classified as subdivision.
   "The majority of the people that came in and talked to me who were 100 percent against it left with a better understanding," he said.
   Schuettler encouraged people to express concerns and questions to him. His office also has copies of the zoning ordinance and zoning maps for people to view.
   The Planning Office, Veteran's Service Office and Codes Enforcement Office will be moving to a remodeled, white house adjacent to the Carter County Courthouse on Nov. 17.