Zoning: It’s worth another look

By Kay Johnson
Steppin' Out

        Well, I did it — again.

Allowing my civic duty to outweigh my journalistic objectivity — something many question can ever truly exist — I spoke up at a public meeting. I shared my thoughts and opinions on the zoning ordinance proposed for Terry during Tuesday night’s hearing.
And I’m glad I did.
My points were prefaced with the statement, “I’m neither for nor against zoning.” But I’ll tell you what, I have some sincere, reservations on how this process is being undertaken.
And here’s why:
We’re a small community. Many of us have known each other since childhood. The high school track coach, girls basketball coach and director of emergency services are all three my former classmates, just to name a few living in Terry. My elementary and high school teachers surround me. When I make a grammatical error in the Tribune — which seems to be a weekly occurrence — I can’t help but think of the grimace that must cross the faces of my former English teachers Mrs. Netzer and Mrs. Tague. 
My point is this: Terry is a very small community, made up mostly of people who have known each other for a long time. In many respects it is like a family — consisting of folks you like, some you don’t, some you know really well and others you subtly or not-so subtly avoid. It’s easy to stumble into the typical pitfalls — bickering, fighting, judging and sometimes getting downright nasty with one another — whether publically belittling each other or with behind the scenes back-biting. We’re all guilty.
Communication, respect and common sense are cornerstones when taking on any group project. These fundamentals can be applied to the task of implementing zoning. 
It’s not only inconsiderate, it’s demeaning and downright irresponsible to propose fundamental changes to an area of property without even consulting the owners of the property that dwells within that area. Yes, there have been hearings and public meetings. But is Terry really that big of a place that board members can’t approach property owners with proposed changes that could drastically affect the future use of their land?  
To take an existing commercial property, especially large neighboring chunks,  and blanket it within a residential zone — without even taking into consideration the property owner’s views is quite simply asinine. 
When a property has been used for 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years as a commercial property, what gives a 3-member board the gull to recatagorize it to dwell within a residential zone, neutering it of any future commercial modifications? And all done under the guise of doing what’s best for Terry’s residents and with not even so much as a “hello” to the business owner. Talk about a slap in the face. 
And yes, I do take it personally. As much as I complain about Terry, I care about what happens in this little berg of the world. This is home. I value the fact that my great-grandfather homesteaded north of Terry; my grandfather cleaned the streets and sewer lines and now my dad’s grandchildren be-bop their way along those same nooks and crannies of Terry. 
The zoning map clearly needs to be redone, the draft re-examined one more time and an honest and sincere look at the idea of putting zoning up for a vote to the residents of Terry needs to be considered. If at this stage of the game the zoning map is so unfairly and thoughtlessly drawn up, what else will we find amiss in those other 50-plus pages? 
It’s worth taking another look.
Published March 20, 2013
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