Everyone cherishes the freedom to do whatever they want with their land. If you've bought it and pay taxes on it, you want the ability to do whatever you please.
As an extension of this, we like to think our neighbors should enjoy the same freedom and be able to do whatever they want with their land. That is until we don't like what they're doing. Then we clamor for something to be done about it.
I think Warren County government would benefit from having some gentle zoning regulations in place. I say this after fielding dozens and dozens of calls over the years from people who are terribly upset about what their neighbors are doing on their property.
The sad answer is that if you live outside McMinnville city limits, there's really nothing that can be done.
The calamity on Bluff Springs Road in the Dibrell area is an extreme example of what can go horribly wrong when property is unchecked by zoning. I received complaints about that property for over a year before the court system got involved and someone convinced the property owners to agree to some pretty restrictive guidelines -- most notably that no more than four people will step foot on their 17 acres. I would never agree to that.
With that saga as Exhibit A, it would really be a benefit for the county to enact a few zoning regulations. This has always been met with fierce resistance because county commissioners don't want to tell anyone what to do with their land. That is at least until someone is really annoying and then it's OK.
The reason zoning laws are in place is to protect the welfare of people in a community as it relates to land use. This is often to ensure that residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural areas don't collide.
As a proud resident of the city of McMinnville, I don't have to worry about someone buying the property next door, leveling the home that's been there for decades, and putting in a 24-hour smoke shop.
County residents don't have that same luxury.
You could have a charming home that's been in your family for generations and someone could buy the property next door and put in a junk yard. The junk yard owner may be required to erect an 8-foot opaque fence, but other than that I don't think any other stipulations would apply.
A simple solution would be to have property in the county designated for single-family dwellings. If such zoning was in place for the aforementioned property on Bluff Springs Road, it would have stopped the problem of 18 people living there in tents before it became unbearable.
While no one likes being told what to do, the simple fact is we live in a society with laws and we are expected to abide by a code of appropriate behavior. Enacting a few simple zoning measures outside the city limits would eliminate a bunch of headaches and be a benefit for Warren County at large.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.