Members of Lee County’s new planning body want to hear what citizens expect of them.
Planning Commission member Danielle Fitch told the Opelika-Auburn News that the public is invited to Wednesday’s 5:30 p.m. at the Lee County Meeting Center, across from the county courthouse in Opelika.
“We want to get some input from the public as to what they want regarding zoning in their area,” said Fitch.
The commission was formed recently by Lee County commissioners, partly in response to citizens in Beat 13 near Beulah who want to stop CreekWood Resources from opening a quarry there.
The purpose of the new body is to look at land use issues and make recommendations to county commissioners to approve or disapprove.
There are no parts of unincorporated Lee County thus far that are legally subject to zoning. Voters in each unincorporated beat, or voting precinct, must agree to be subject to Lee County’s Master Plan and any zoning rules.
As it stands right now, the only legal barrier to CreekWood’s plan would be denial of the air and water emissions permits it needs to operate at the site. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management is taking public comments on the company’s permit applications and will host a public hearing May 20 at Opelika’s Municipal Court chambers.
Beat 13 voters can change that Tuesday, when they vote on the following question: “Shall the authority of the Lee County Planning Commission, its master plan and zoning regulations apply to Beat 13?”
The election, set for May 18 at Pine Grove Church on U.S. 29, is open solely to registered voters in Beat 13. Should the “Yes” vote win, the Master Plan and zoning would apply only to Beat 13. That would give county officials a way to fight the CreekWood plan, should county commissioners decide to use it.
Planning Commission Chairman Kevin Flannagan reminded his colleagues at their April 28 meeting exactly why they were appointed.
“We are not here to stop the quarry,” Flannagan explained. “We’re coming up with a zoning ordinance for this district … to help take care of property values and quality of life there.”