Opinion – 6/9/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 9, 2006

The Panolian: OPINIONS

 From the 6/9/06 issue of The Panolian :                 
Finger in wind bad planning for coming growth

Panola County supervisors got what they requested Monday when the five-member board received a report of the goings-on last month of the Panola County Land Development Commission.

Supervisors got what they deserved, too, considering that the commission answers to the board and that its volunteer members are appointed by the supervisors.

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It took a controversial vote by the commission before supervisors appeared to take interest in the monthly work of the commission. At a January meeting, the commission voted to haul a business owner to justice court for failing to operate with a paved parking lot, a standard requirement for new businesses that open in the county.

It was the first time the commission sought to fine a business owner, and supervisors balked at the idea.

"I don’t get the minutes from the meeting until two weeks later," Panola County Administrator David Chandler complained to The Panolian in February. "I’d like to know if anything controversial is going on before I read it in the newspaper."

Now that Chandler and the supervisors have gotten what they requested and deserved, hopefully they will do likewise for the citizens of Panola County.

Land commission members often vote on weighty matters, creating both fans and detractors with decisions that impact people’s homes, businesses and livelihood. Such authority demands that the commission operate independently from the wishes of the supervisors.

While the land commission’s duty is to determine what is best for the long-term development of our county, politics often does not operate like that. Elected officials often feel an obligation to please a majority of their constituents, which is not the same thing as basing decisions on the overall effect on our community.

And that leads to what Panola Countians deserve.

Panola Countians deserve the ability to construct a home or business, erect a church or purchase property without fear that a juke joint, trailer park or pig farm can pop up next door overnight. Without the commission and its set of rules and regulations, we don’t have that assurance.

There is no longer a question of if the "urban sprawl" of Memphis trickles south to Panola – but when.

Panola Countians therefore would do themselves and their heirs a favor by planning judiciously now, rather than after the horse is out of the barn.

With the commission’s job becoming more important as our county grows, Panola Countians deserve to know if supervisors will put a finger in the wind each month when they learn about the land commission’s business.



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