By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal Oxford Bureau
BLUE SPRINGS – Blue Springs aldermen could vote as early as tonight on a proposed plan to update the zoning ordinance that was first adopted in 2009.
The update would be the first step toward incorporating the new comprehensive plan that was adopted in March. It would assign zoning to the roughly two-thirds of the town that was annexed last year.
Meg Crockett of Slaughter amp& Associates LLC presented the zoning proposal Monday night at a public hearing.
Blue Springs’ historic center will be zoned Community Business District, as will some currently residential lands along State Highway 178 near the southeast corner of the town. The combined zoning is unusual, but city leaders and Meg Crockett of Oxford-based Slaughter and Associates Planners LLC thought it necessary. Both CBD areas are highly residential but in the likely path of commercial development. A purely commercial zoning would grandfather in existing homes, but would allow no more to be built.
“The problem is we were so worried something might happen to someone’s home and they couldn’t rebuild,” said Alderman Leanna Hollis. “How crazy would that be?”
The east edge of Blue Springs and a tract just west of downtown will remain agricultural, while much of the land along Highway 178 inside a one-mile radius of the Toyota plant will be either commercial or industrial. According to an agreement with Toyota, no residence – whether as permanent as a house or as temporary as a hotel – can be located within that radius.
Residents quickly learned the two-edged sword that zoning can be. Renna Tolbert and her husband had planned to have 32 acres zoned commercial in case they wanted to sell it but settled for 1.5 acres.
“Jerry and I were fine with being commercial until we got the phone call asking if we were sure we wanted to do this, because if we went commercial and had a tornado or a fire, we couldn’t rebuild our house,” she said.
Zoning “cuts both ways,” said Mayor David Boland. “If you don’t have it, you have no protections, but if you do, you can’t do everything you want to with your own property. I haven’t ever figured out how to make everybody happy.”
Crockett reminded residents that zoning is, like most other plans, a work in progress.
“This is not set in stone,” she said. “Blue Springs may change this five years from now. Towns review these things all the time.”