| Paving requirement should be upheld
For the first time in its history, the Panola County Land Development Commission is pursuing a court fine against a business owner because he has yet to pave the parking lot of his retail store.
The county’s land-use ordinance requires a commercial business to operate with a paved lot, but the owner has held off even though the store was approved by the land commission in August, 2004.
That means 17 months have passed since the store opened, doing business every day despite the commission’s repeated demands that he follow the paving ordinance.
Part of the owner’s argument is that his business should be an exception to the county’s land-use standards because an asphalt parking lot would ruin the "country look" of his store.
In reality, the business owner seems to be delaying the inevitable expense of the paving, telling the commission he first wants to remove some trees from the property, and he wants to return to the commission to both ask for a variance and request permission to open a slaughter house.
The owner has also paved a small portion in front of the store, presumably in another attempt to delay the commission’s repeated requests.
Perhaps it’s fitting that Panola County’s growing need to balance our quiet pace of life with a growing populace would collide over a place called Stan’s Country Store.
When the land development commission began its work about five years ago, some county residents viewed the commission’s purpose and power with suspicion.
"Why do we need zoning in the county?" was the frequent question.
The land commission’s role has since become clear to many Panola Countians, such as Wildwood subdivision homeowners who fought a helicopter service and Curtis residents who are fighting a rubbish pit.
Without the county’s land-use ordinances, a juke joint, a hog farm, a crowded trailer park – take your pick – can open for business right now, right next door to your home.
If county supervisors progress on a proposed solid waste ordinance, it would operate under similar circumstances, requiring homeowners to remove their junk cars and clean up the piles of trash in their yards.
As supervisors mull over the ordinance, they can base their decision on the commission’s unofficial motto: "What is best for our county?"
In the case of Stan’s Country Store, the owner should follow the same rule that dozens of other business owners have followed, often at a greater expense: pave your parking lot.
(See story page 1A)