Cape Girardeau County Commission votes down peripheral zoning

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Cape Girardeau County Commission unanimously voted down Cape Girardeau's request for peripheral zoning within two miles of the city limits. Thursday's vote came after weeks of public outcry among potentially affected residents.

"This has been an emotional issue for many, many people," Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said. Tuesday's public hearing on peripheral zoning drew 400 people to the Osage Community Centre in Cape Girardeau.

City leaders had said they wanted peripheral zoning to protect the city as it grows. Often the infrastructure in the newly annexed areas is substandard and requires the city to spend money on improvements, they said.

Jones said he understood why the city requested peripheral zoning and didn't think its key supporter, council member Mark Lanzotti, wanted to control the area beyond city borders, a fear of many opponents.

"Lanzotti wasn't out to take your land," Jones said. "He was just thinking about the future of Cape Girardeau, but he wasn't sitting in your seat."

Commissioner Jay Purcell, who represents city residents on the commission, said he plans on urging state representatives to repeal or change the law that allows peripheral zoning.

"It's going to continue to rear its head," he said. "We need to get it off our backs, period."

One of Purcell's complaints against peripheral zoning was that it amounted to legislation without representation. The proposal submitted to the commission did not grant residents in the peripheral zone a council member or a representative on the city's planning and zoning board.

Commissioner Paul Koeper said recent statements that Cape Girardeau County was the only first-class county in the state without countywide planning and zoning were incorrect. After researching the issue, Koeper said Jasper County has no planning and zoning, Cole County has planning only and Camden County has limited planning and zoning affecting only its lake area.

Jim Goggin, a business owner in the proposed peripheral zone, became the unofficial leader of the opposition movement after he organized a public meeting more than two weeks ago. He said he was pleased with the commission's decision but that he is not done. Like Purcell, he said he plans to contact state representatives to address the current law.

Before the vote, Goggin presented the commission with a petition against the request. The petition had 625 signatures.

Lanzotti said he was disappointed with the decision, particularly that they were not willing to work with the city to find a solution that would benefit both county residents and the city. He said he was concerned with Purcell's lack of interest in finding common ground.

About 20 people attended the commission's vote Thursday. No city officials were present.

Other action

Also at Thursday's meeting:

* County officials continued their budget discussions with commissioners. Voting on the final version of the budget will take place in January.

* Dr. Ron Anderson and Dale Rauh were appointed to the enhanced enterprise zone board. Anderson, the superintendent of the Jackson School District, will represent the zone's educational community. Rauh, the chairman of the senior citizens service fund board, will represent the county's taxing entities.

* Appointments to the domestic violence board, mental health board and Southeast Missouri Port Authority board were postponed until Dec. 13, pending advertisement of positions and recommendations by board chairmen.

* Appointments to the Missouri Association of Counties board was postponed until Monday, pending a formal referral from county office holders regarding their selection. The county has two representatives on the board. One of the appointments must be a commissioner, and the other is to be an elected official agreed upon by the county's other elected officials. Current representatives are Jones and Assessor Jerry Reynolds.

* Commissioners rescinded their motion limiting the highway department to $140,500 for the purchase of tractors with mowers. A price that had been left off the original quote increased the total to $140,900. A new motion allowing the additional $400 was passed. The contract will be awarded to John Deere Co. of Cary, N.C. Delivery and service will be through Wm. Noble & Co. of Scott City.


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