Frantic butt covering by Rice County about I-35 — too funny! Except that Rice County’s actions have an impact on people’s lives… this area is home for many people, and to put people through this is abusive policy. Does this look like the place for 11.5 million square feet of commercial development?


So what’s up? Rice County has sent out a notice that on August 11, 2005, at 7:30 p.m., there will be a hearing for comments regarding proposed changes in the Comprehensive Plan. After the fact, the County is trying to comply with basic land use principles, that you may only make zoning changes that are compatible with the Comprehensive Plan — the I-35 changes aren’t, so now they’re trying to change the Plan. Here’s part of what they’re wanting to change, the full notice should be published in the paper. Here’s the notice that a landowner received. View image

Item C: Add wording to the Comprehensive Plan to reflect the Zoning to
Highway Commercial for the area South of Highway 19 between County Road 46 and just South of County Road 1to I-35 and for the area North and South of County Road 1 between Baseline Road and I-35.

* Add to page 50 a new paragraph following the second paragraph. “On page 18 of this document there was information as to how the tax base of Rice County was becoming more dependent on
residential development. Because Rice County desires to become a self -sustaining community it is essential that employment opportunities and non -residential development be a focus. An area of approximately 1100 acres is designated for commercial industrial development and will need to be properly planned to optimize development potential and benefit to Rice County. Creation of a Land Use Master Plan, an Alternative Urban Area Review (AUAR) process will be necessary to
guide the development. The AUAR will need to address more specifically the implementation of the Infrastructure Plan including Rice County Policy on improvements.

* Change Map 3 Rice County Comprehensive Plan to include nonresidential land use designation for this area.

So not only is this a tacit admission by the County that its Comprehensive Plan does not allow for this type of land use, not only is it an admission that the AUAR does indeed require analysis of a “no-build” alternative because the Comprehensive Plan in effect at the time the AUAR was passed does not incorporate this type of development, it’s more fundamental — Rice County, in its rush to ram through this project, passed zoning changes that are not allowed under the Comprehensive Plan! Well, DUH, we’ve been telling them all this for how long?

Funny this should occur right when the County’s outhouse attorneys (not inhouse) on the MERA suit are digging through the County files working on our Discovery… $50 says they’re finding a few things that are “problematic.” The sad thing is that citizens have to go to this extent to get their government, which is supposed to represent their interests, to act legally.

2 Responses to “Rice County admits I-35 changes not within Comprehensive Plan”

  1. Bruce Morlan Says:

    I would bet that this is more a matter of wanting I-35 development and not thinking about the role the comprehensive plan plays in planning. The error is to then try to change the plan on a short turn-around when the whole idea of having a Comprehensive Plan was to carefully think about what we wanted and capture that in the Comprehensive Plan, rather than reactively pretending that this (I-35 re-zoning) was in the plan all along. Winston Smith (1984 character whose job was to rewrite history to match the current (sur)reality he lived in) would have understood immediately what the County Planners were doing here.

  2. Richard Osborne Says:

    I agree — the situation in Rice County is truly Orwellian. I was thinking “Animal Farm” because of the rural nature of the county, but “1984” is a better comparison — we sure have heard a lot of phony “newspeak” over the past couple of years.

    Actually, Rice County leadership really reminds me more of a corrupt banana republic than a totalitarian state, but the rhetoric is often the same.

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