GUEST COMMENTARY: Major changes proposed to land subdivision regulations

Monday, September 24, 2012 | 4:07 p.m. CDT

I attended a Boone County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on the evening of Sept. 20. On the agenda was a first reading of an amended land subdivision regulation for dividing land in Boone County. 

It appears that there are hundreds of changes that the staff has given to the zoning commission for a recommendation to the county commissioners. Staff reported that pretty much everything in the changes were only to "clean up" discrepancies in the old code and that nothing significant was proposed.

It was evident to me after reviewing the document and it became clear to most members of the zoning commission that there were some very significant changes included. One of the hidden changes (among several) appears to virtually eliminate land division anywhere in the county if tracts of land will be accessed by a private driveway. I believe that if this is adopted, it will dramatically lower the value of larger tracts of land in Boone County. It will eliminate the potential for the owners of such property to divide their land in the way that has been available in the past. It will also limit the availability of building sites for individuals who desire to live on a small private lane. I think that there are a number of people who like living in such areas and do desire private drives rather than traditional "subdivision" lots.

When asked why the need to do this, staff indicated that the county commissioners commonly receive complaints from residents who live on private roads and do not receive county snow removal and road maintenance. That seems like a poor reason to eliminate private roads in this county. Obviously the commissioners are not going to get calls complimenting the commission on how happy they are living on their cozy little private roads. I believe that there are a large number of individuals who truly appreciate the setting they have on these private lanes.

In addition, these type of divisions help the county budget by increasing the tax base.  The taxes on a large wooded or agricultural piece of land is quite low. If you take that same piece of land and divide it into five or 10 nice building sites accessed by a private lane with five or 10 nice houses on them, the tax assessment goes up significantly with no additional cost of public roads to maintain by the county.

The zoning commission (specifically Carl Freiling) requested more time to study the impact of these changes but was told by staff that the county commission wanted to hurry this along and get passed quickly before the new commission is elected.

It seems to me that the public should be made aware of what in my opinion is a "taking" of property rights to limit a few angry calls to our three commissioners.

If you are a Boone County landowner who wants to continue to have the ability to divide your land using a private driveway, I encourage you to contact our commissioners and let them know that you would like to keep the part of our subdivision regulations that allow private driveways as they are currently written.

Our Commissioners contact information:

Karen Miller

886-4305 Office

Skip Elkin

886-4305 Office

Dan Atwill

886-4305 Office

A copy of the proposed changes are available on the county website

Mike Tompkins is a Boone County resident and owns Tompkins Homes and Development Inc. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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