OUR OPINION: ‘Common sense’ zoning shapes best property use

By NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo’s long process of successfully annexing 16 square miles along its perimeters reached a benchmark Tuesday night with adoption of zoning codes for all the recently added area.
The zoning changes nothing about the newly included land except to guide use and development of it – protective regulation not available as long as it was part of unzoned, unincorporated areas of Lee County.
The zoning adopted by the City Council, not surprisingly, fits the existing use of the land or reflects the most likely, practical use of the properties moving forward. Agricultural land, for example, is zoned for agricultural use.
Undeveloped land, as intended when the city began the annexation process, is zoned for residential development – a chief reason Tupelo’s elected and civc leadership supported the city’s expansion.
Zoning ordinances and regulations, it’s appropriate to remember, are not about eliminating property rights but enhancing best use of land for the community’s betterment.
These guidelines focus zoning everywhere:
• Use land for the most suitable purposes.
• Protect or maintain property values.
• Promote public health and safety.
• Protect the environment.
• Manage traffic flow.
• Manage density.
• Encourage housing for varied lifestyles and economic levels.
• Manage aesthetics.
• Provide for more orderly development.
• Help attract business and industry.
The earliest development of zoning as good public policy came in part from Herbert Hoover, who later was president and who served as U.S. secretary of commerce. Hoover was a visionary in planning growth. His insight about zoning remains a measure of effectiveness 80 years after he first acted on the idea.
“Zoning is the application of common sense to the public regulations governing the use of private real estate. It is a painstaking, honest effort to provide each district or neighborhood as nearly as practicable, with just such protection and with just such liberty as are sensible to the particular district. … It fosters civic spirit by creating confidence in the justice and stability of the protection afforded,” Hoover wrote in his “Zoning Primer.”
The benefits of zoning are often thought of as urban codes, but whole counties and unincorporated areas also can benefit. We hope the Lee County Board of Supervisors considers countywide zoning to guide growth and protect property values with “common sense” regulations.