By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – After more than a year of work supervisors have adopted a county plan as part of a long-range effort to guide future growth in the county. The plan, Stewardship Yalobusha, was approved at Monday’s recessed Board of Supervisor meeting in a 4-1 vote with District 5 Supervisor Gaylon Gray dissenting.
Stewardship Yalobusha outlines broad goals and objectives for the county following an in-depth discovery period that included input from the public during meetings held around the county. The discovery portion of the plan also includes an overview of the county’s development trends including population and growth, demographic characteristics, housing characteristics, economic trends and development patterns to provide a fact based foundation for identifying the development issues likely to be faced in the future.
The plan also includes a vision for the county, which includes building and maintaining quality infrastructure, promoting excellence in the local-based economy and health care, creating and renewing quality rural neighborhoods and caring for the natural environment.
The adoption of the plan clears the way for the next step for supervisors, which is implementing strategies to achieve the vision and goals.
“Step two is the land development standards, which is about 80 percent drafted,” explained Bob Barber at Monday’s meeting. Barber is a partner with Orion Planning Plus Design, the company hired by the county in April, 2017, at a cost of $32,000 to oversee efforts on the plan.
Basic land development standards identified that will likely be adopted include minimum lot sizes for lots without sewer; building setbacks, or the required separation between a structure and roadway; road construction standards and right-of-way standards. Also under consideration are special land use standards, which will include regulations for manufactured home parks, recreational vehicle parks, gravel mining, salvage yards, multi-family housing and auto repair shops.
The development regulations under consideration will also address land divisions that create an access easement, land divisions that propose a public road, land divisions using municipal sewer or constructing a centralized sewer system, multiple lot divisions on existing public roads and any division for commercial or industrial uses.
“But we are exempting probably 95 percent of the landowners,” Barber reiterated in Monday’s meeting, exemptions that include all agricultural activity and divisions of family land (up to four divisions within a four-year period for public road frontage meeting minimum lot size).
“We are concerned about people who want to come and develop property and use up an expanse of land and significantly change a neighborhood,” Board President Cayce Washington noted. “That would include mobile home parks, rv parks, subdivisions.”
The remaining work fine-tuning these regulations is expected to take 45 days.
Barber also explained the implementation process includes assigning administrative duties for county employees to oversee the plan.
“The objective is to have minimal budgetary impact and staff impact,” Barber noted. Details for implementing and staffing the plan are expected to be discussed in upcoming meetings.