By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – Supervisors reinstated a stay on the issuance of building permits for construction of multi-family developments or subdivisions in unincorporated areas of the county during a special-called board meeting last Friday. The 180-day stay was approved to ensure new development will meet the guidelines of new land development standards in the county that will be adopted in coming months.
In the 4-0 vote with District 5 Supervisor Gaylon Gray abstaining, the order was approved and a public hearing was scheduled on May 29. A stay was initially adopted in June, 2017, two months after supervisors hired Orion Planning+Design to draft development standards as part of a long-range comprehensive growth plan to help guide future growth in the county. The purpose of the stay was to ensure development contrary to the county’s new plan did not start during the interim period.
During the stay, approval for plans for multi-family developments or subdivisions and the issuance of building permits is required from the Board of Supervisors.
Board President Cayce Washington noted that the 180-day stay approved last June has expired, prompting the special meeting last Friday at the Coffeeville courthouse.
“We are in the process of trying to approve a countywide stewardship program and if you are going to come in and develop, you are going to need to go to the board first and share your idea to make sure it is conducive to the direction we want to take the county,” Washington explained.
Trailer park development was cited when the initial stay was adopted last June and again in Friday’s meeting.
“There are some developers on the north end of the county talking about buying up some swaths of land for the purpose of developing it,” Washington also noted. “I don’t think anyone is against the development, we just want to make sure it is done right.”
“I think another main concern is to give people who already live in a community, or in an area or on a road, notice that something is about to happen and their neighborhood could be changing,” District 3 Supervisor Lee McMinn added. “That is all anybody wants, they have a major investment there and when somebody comes in and changes the look of the neighborhood, they have a right to know about it in advance and have a say in it.”
Although the public hearing is scheduled for public input on May 29, the stay takes effect immediately.
Supervisors have worked almost a year on implementing land development standards in the county and a draft proposal was presented to county officials in March by Bob Barber with Orion Planning+Design. The proposal, if adopted by supervisors, stops short of implementing county-wide zoning and instead will utilize land development standards geared toward specific types of development.
“If you are in the development business, there will be a set of standards with an approval process,” Barber explained during the March meeting. “The way it is drafted, we have a set of subdivision standards where we exempt all agricultural activities. Divisions giving lots to children or family, all that type of activity is exempted,” he added. “If you are in the development business or you create easements or create public roads or private roads, there is a set of standards and an approval process.”
Barber said the plan includes standards for special land use activities to address specific concerns identified during the lengthy discovery process that included research on trends in the county as well as input from county officials and from the public during three community meetings last September.
The special land use activities cited by Barber include manufactured home parks, recreational vehicle parks, gravel mining, salvage yards, multi-family housing developments and auto repair shops.
“Those were the things that came back that were the most sensitive concerns of Yalobusha County,” Barber explained.
Under the proposal, the planner said these types of development will not be limited to specific areas in the county as they could be with zoning. Instead, there will be a specific set of standards governing each of the special use activities. An example cited by Barber was a gravel mining operation, which would require inclusion of buffers so neighboring property owners aren’t overwhelmed by dust and noise.
The draft proposal presented by Barber is expected to be tweaked by supervisors before final approval later this summer.