County residents vexed by ETZ law

By Jack King

About 30 people attended a City Commission meeting Thursday night to ask the city to rescind its extraterritorial zoning ordinance.
Commissioners voted 5 to1, with one abstention, not to approve the request. Commissioner Gloria Wicker voted “no” and Commissioner Robert Sandoval abstained, explaining that he had not been on the commission when it first considered the ETZ ordinance.
Commissioners approved an ETZ ordinance in February 2002, setting subdivision regulations for one mile outside city limits. But county resident George Shepman argued Thursday that the ordinance was a hastily written, poorly edited version of the county’s subdivision regulations that has many problems.
“If the city feels compelled to have an extraterritorial zone, we in the county feel we should have a say in how it’s made,” Shepman said.
Tom Taylor told the commissioners that easements set by the ordinance were a taking of private property.
“The issue is us not having representation for an unnecessary ordinance,” he said.
Mayor David Lansford told the audience that under state law the city could have created an ETZ that stretched five miles beyond city limits, but it decided to extend the zone for only one mile.
City Attorney David Richards said prior to the ETZ ordinance, the city had never indicated to its Planning and Zoning Commission what standards to apply to a subdivision. If the city were to rescind its ordinance, it would be back to “an ad hoc situation, where it’s an open question every time somebody wants to develop a subdivision,” he said.
Commissioner Kevin Duncan said the city negotiated easements from developers in the five-mile zone beyond the city limits before the passage of the ordinance. The ordinance is an attempt by the city to develop standards, so that when the city annexes developments it doesn’t have to spend tax money to bring them up to code, he said.
He told Shepman he would be willing to reconsider the ETZ ordinance, if Shepman could get the County Commission to cooperate with the city.
“The County Commission has its faults, but we in the county are a lot more happy with it, right now, than we are the city,” Shepman said.