Dear Editor: I wrote last about land use approvals and a screening process, according to the Madison County zoning ordinance that should guide those in seats of authority on how they might determine compliance.

I looked earlier at use description, and the deep thicket of weeds a reader must wend through, the kind of weeds that might prevent a higher, better overview of the course of events.

A look at Section IV.6, Interpretation of uses, (an Amendment adopted in July of 2017) finds that the ordinance, instead of clarifying the difference between sheep and goats, runs now for cover, tail between legs, ears long and low.

I’ve pasted below some of the weedy verbiage contained in that bubble-wrapped disclaimer.

“...Some degree of interpretation will occasionally be required. It is not possible to list each and every variation or name of a given use. In addition to other generally accepted references and resources, the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS), published by the U.S. Department of Commerce (current available edition), may be referred to in order to interpret the definition of uses listed in Article VII to identify similar uses that may be allowed along with each listed use...The NAICS assigns classification numbers to businesses and industries based on the primary business activity in which the company is engaged. While business activity usually corresponds to land use type, and therefore can be easily assigned to appropriate zoning districts, there are exceptions…”

Interpretation, by that vote of commissioners, was offloaded, as a checkpoint of a buck’s stoppage, to some obscure reference published by somebody else in another location.

If interpretation must be offloaded, it could easily and locally be dumped in the lap of a sitting board (P&Z) or of a local citizens’ advisory board.

The county’s recent loss in a very hot (burning, in fact) use issue may explain why that 2017 commission wanted way wide wiggle room for its staff, but that vote only makes way for more full sailing ahead into thickening fog.


Jim Baird


(1) comment

Virginia Moss

Sounds like typical government verbiage to me, always obtuse, unclear, overly complicated and weedy, whether laws, rules, codes or guidelines. I guess too many lawyers get involved. I suspect this aspect of government is what turns citizens against government and away from politics; it's just way too complicated and complex for the average person. Then government gets out of control because too many were not paying attention. Example: the last four years.

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