| Supervisors undermine land use commissioners
It’s not just about the paving the parking lot at Stan’s Country Store.
When the Panola County Land Development Commission attempted to enforce previously accepted rules on the country store located between Batesville and Oxford, more was at stake than putting asphalt on a parking area.
Following existing rules and precedents, the county’s land use commission had insisted that the proprietor complete the paving of the parking area at his store on Highway 6 east of Batesville.
On Monday supervisors unanimously voted against the commission’s decision, evidently without knowing exactly what the planning commissioners had done or what they had told the store owner.
Recently Stan Holcomb went before the board of supervisors and sought a variance from the commission’s request.
The land use commission is made up of members appointed by the Panola County Board of Supervisors. Their job is to enforce regulations set up by the county so that Panola County can grow in an orderly and safe manner — safe meaning not only safety from physical harm to people, but also safety from economic damage to property that can be caused by unregulated, haphazard growth.
You may not be wrong if you think that an asphalt parking lot at a "country store" may take away from the rustic ambience trying to be portrayed. But if an exception or variance is granted, what is to keep other business entities from adding "country" to their name and getting similar variances?
What if everyone who doesn’t want to comply with the commission’s decisions attempts to flex their political muscle to override the appointed commission?
During last year’s city election sign variances became an issue when a candidate noted that anyone wanting to have a sign larger than the law allowed could simply ask for and receive a variance.
What’s the use?
The land use board also serves as a buffer between the elected board of supervisors and their constituencies. Being appointed, the land use commissioners working together are in a better position to overcome the political will of a few and work toward the betterment of the county as a whole. Supervisors are paid well and most drive nice pickups furnished by taxpayers. Commission members serve with no compensation.
Overturning their decisions on a regular basis will cause the independent minded to steer clear of being appointed to the board and leave the door open for rubber stampers to seek and fill the appointments.
Meanwhile, Panola County and surrounding areas may be at the edge of unparalleled growth due to economic forces and location. If that growth comes we need developers who want to make quality investments and longterm commitments to our community, not those who choose to locate here so they can get by more cheaply due to lax land use standards that aren’t enforced.
The county land use commission is on the right track with solid members and solid decisions. Too many exceptions now will hurt in the future.