Citizens protest zoning approval – Commission ratifies overwhelming vote

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Despite an outcry from a number of residents, the Shelby County Commission ratified the vote to bring zoning to the Chelsea North-Dunnavant Valley South-Westover North Beat.

Residents packed the commission chambers in Columbiana Monday night, many hoping to stop commissioners from ratifying the vote, the final step in the beat’s zoning process.

Commissioner Don Armstrong made the motion to ratify the vote.

&uot;It would be negligent on our part if we were to go against the vote of the people,&uot; he said.

The vote he was referring to occurred Tuesday, Jan. 18, and nearly 67 percent of those who voted chose to accept the zoning regulations set forth by the county as a &uot;zoned beat.&uot;

With the vote, 728 to 385, the beat became the first to approve zoning since beat lines were redrawn following the 2000 census.

The 61 square mile area is generally located in north central Shelby County and includes Shoal Creek, Highland Lakes, Mt. Laurel, Villas Belvedere and Fowler Lake as well as much of Highway 41 and Shelby County Highway 55.

Commission chairman Larry Dillard attempted to quell some of the worries of those who gathered at the meeting Monday.

&uot;Those of you who don’t live in the zoned beat don’t have anything to worry about,&uot; Dillard said. &uot;For some of you who do live in the zoned beat, you need to accept that. If you don’t want to accept that, you can move.&uot;

Dunnavant Valley resident Terry Reagin objected to the beat becoming subject to zoning.

&uot;If you read the plan (the county’s comprehensive plan), you’ll see how they talk about stripping us of our rights. This isn’t being done for the citizens. It’s being done to the citizens,&uot; Reagin said. &uot;This plan will strip us of our freedoms.&uot;

The vote the commission ratified on Monday dealt strictly with zoning in one beat of the county’s 12.

The county commission had approved the comprehensive plan before the end of last year following an exhaustive process of many months.

&uot;Understand,&uot; Reagin told the commissioners, &uot;There is an election coming. This (vote) will not be forgotten. I will fight this with every ounce of blood in my body.&uot;

David Bailey, another resident of Dunnavant Valley, agreed and urged the commissioners to vote against ratifying the vote.

&uot;Let us be free and let us go back to the way we wanted. Move us back where our beat was and leave us alone,&uot; he said.

Denise Howard who has lived in the area for 46 years said, &uot;More consideration should be made. We did not know about the election. The end of time will come, and you will pay for it.&uot;

Joseph Wallace, who has lived in Dunnavant Valley since 1961, said he came to Shelby County &uot;because you didn’t have to have a permit to do nothing.

&uot;I want it back the way it was,&uot; he said.

His wife agreed and objected to the vote itself.

&uot;Mt. Laurel and Shoal Creek were allowed to vote. They have their own rules there. I have 55 acres and have lived there for 42 years, and now you can come in there and tell me what to do on my 55 acres,&uot; she said.

Another resident of 28 years, Polly Dodson, agreed.

&uot;We do need zoning, I agree; but this is not the plan. You do not take private landowners’ rights away from them.

&uot;Yes, there needs to be a stop to the growth, but don’t take it out on the private landowners.&uot;

Other residents, however, were on hand to offer thanks and support to county officials.

John Randolph, who has lived in Dunnavant Valley for 30 years, said since he moved to the area, he has recognized the need for zoning.

&uot;I felt the area needed zoning (30 years ago). The important thing is that this issue was submitted to a vote of the people, and they answered two to one in support for zoning,&uot; he said.

Following the motion by commissioner Armstrong, the vote was unanimous to ratify the zoning map.

In other business, the County Commission announced that April 9 and Oct. 8 will be free landfill days for residents, churches and civic groups to dispose of trash and debris at the Shelby County landfill. The debris must be residential household debris and limited to one-ton trucks or less. Businesses, commercial and city haulers will be charged the regular rate.

* The commission also dedicated the newly constructed Alex Mill Road across Highway 119 from American Village.

* The commission approved the appointment of Angela Brothers to the Shelby County Community Health Foundation. Her three-year term will expire Sept. 30, 2007.

* County Engineer Randy Cole announced that the first traffic light on Highway 280 will be bid Feb. 23