Precious areas in county should not be unprotected

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By Jeff Moore

It appears that a liquid asphalt storage facility will soon be built on the banks of the Kentucky River, just outside Prestonville in Carroll County.

A Louisville company purchased property there and has jumped through the regulatory hoops that will allow construction to begin on the storage tanks and its barge facility on the river.

But there are many local residents upset with the plan to have barge-loads of liquid asphalt shipped here because of its impact on the rivers, our tourism industry and nearby residents.

Living just four blocks from the Kentucky River in Carrollton, I share their concerns. I wonder if our area will find a lingering odor from the operation in the air. And what will happen if there is a spill?

But residents of Carroll County did not have a voice on whether they want such a facility to locate here. Yes, the Corps of Engineers came to town for a public meeting, but made it clear they were not here to hear these types of concerns.

This situation brought to mind a situation with some similarities that I covered as a reporter during the late-1980s in Virginia.

An out-of-state company decided this mining community would be a great place to locate a landfill.

This firm saw a great opportunity there with mining companies already moving all the dirt and rock to find coal. Why not bring in bales of garbage from states such as New York to help fill in these big holes in the ground?

Local residents were outraged. They did not want to become the dumping ground for other state’s trash. Local residents had concerns ranging from the effects on ground water and truck traffic hauling in the garbage to the chance that hazardous waste could be in these bales of garbage.

County leaders looked to federal and state authorities to help them prevent this from happening. However, there was nothing they could do. If this company secured the necessary permits, these strip mines would become landfills.

There was one option that could stop this plan — zoning.

But zoning had always been a “dirty word” that no one wanted to mention. People in Wise County, Va., had feared all the restrictions that they thought would come with a land use plan for their county. They had not wanted someone else telling them what they could do on their property. They found instead that zoning was their chance to tell others what they wanted in their community. This landfill plan was not on their list of acceptable uses.

Leaders quickly adopted an emergency zoning ordinance that stopped this unwanted invasion on their community. Soon afterwards, a permanent zoning plan was adopted. In the process, officials and residents learned that zoning wasn’t bad after all. Land use rules for the community were put into place that protected them without imposing unwanted restrictions on the county’s residents.

Years later, this community learned how their actions had protected them. The company they stopped from hauling in garbage found itself in trouble for its garbage disposal practices. Their landfill operations were posing environmental hazards on the community and the company’s owners found themselves in trouble with regulatory agencies.

Carroll County should have a voice in what is wanted and what is not welcome within the county limits. Zoning is the way to accomplish this.

Fiscal court should not wait until a crisis develops to take steps to enact zoning rules. Leaders should put rules in place that meet with the wishes of local residents.

Zoning doesn’t have to be packed with restrictions that make life difficult for people who live here. But it should protect them from the things that they don’t want in their backyard.

Carroll County’s future is too precious to leave unprotected.