County planning group takes show on the road
By Matt Burgoyne
Morgan County Planning and Development started its group sessions on Thursday, March 6, discussing zoning and land use in the agricultural and lakeshore districts.
Led by Allison Moon, senior planner for Morgan County, the discussion groups are a forum for the citizens of Morgan County to express their opinions on how land should be used. Moon directs the session in a certain direction based on the type of land, agricultural or lakeshore.
The purpose of the discussion groups is to inform Moon on the views of Morgan County citizens.
“There is no agenda to this meeting,” Moon said. She wants to create an open dialogue between the public and county planners. The inaugural meeting focused on the use of agricultural land. Farmers, realtors and other members of Morgan County gathered to share their opinions on the issue. Moon started the meeting asking attendees, “What is rural?”
From there, topics ranging from conservation use to the future of farming and agritourism were discussed. Moon was glad to hear everything they had to say, because it will help her and the Board of Commissioners in future plans for Morgan County. A large portion of the hour–long meeting was dedicated to what constitutes conservation use. Some citizens at the meeting Thursday night pointed out consequences of the exemption, including the amount of time a parcel of land is covered under conservation use.
If a property is approved for the exemption, the coverage lasts 10 years. Within that decade, the owner of the property must follow certain regulations to qualify for the tax break. If the rules are breached, the property owner will end up paying two times the amount they saved on taxes, Moon said.
This was just one of many topics discussed at the meeting. On Monday, March 10, the first Lakeshore Zoning and Land Use Discussion Group was held. Moon wants to focus on what the citizens want to do with lakeshore land – either make it residential or recreational. Both groups allow anyone with an opinion to come and make a difference in Morgan County. “They will have tremendous effect on the vision of Morgan County,” Moon said.
The Lakeshore Zoning and Land Use Discussion Group will meet the second and fourth Monday of each month starting on Monday, March 10. The Agricultural Zoning and land Use Discussion Group will meet the first and third Thursday of each month with its second meeting on Thursday, March 20.