Letters to the editor

June 30, 2005

Warns about

new Jonesboro

zoning rules

To the editor:

If you have missed out on a trip to the principal's office in the past you should come to the next meeting of the Jonesboro City Council. Monday night's public hearing and called meeting was a real eye opener in the operations of government and how a potential dictatorship would work. Jonesboro is in the process of updating its zoning code and has hired outside firms to tell the local citizens how their property should be utilized and what color paint to use. The code is so broad ranging, every one in Jonesboro will be affected in some way.

Thank goodness for public hearings. Every one there was given an opportunity to view the new zoning map and to a point, ask questions of the consulting firm that was making the recommendations. Again to a point. The new code has to be housed in a 3-inch binder to hold it all. In all fairness to the consulting firm some of the recommendations have merit. But comparing us to College Park and Smyrna raised some flags, as did some contradictions in the presentation. In trying to find answers to these issues we were taken back to the principal's office and treated rudely by the mayor like 10-year-olds.

There are important questions that have not been publicly addressed. Like the R-1 overlay and how the color and style of your property may have to be brought to some one else's standards. Or bringing the downtown business district up to current safety codes to name a few. Twenty years ago when one of the downtown business owners checked into up grading for safety he found it would cost over $50,000. That could easily triple in today's market. This could be required under the new code. These and many other questions were not allowed to be asked at a "public hearing." Even Tuesday after the "public hearing" information was not available at city hall.

The actions and rudeness that were exhibited Monday night are indicative of what got us to this point. The citizens went from not even being given a chance to ask questions at council meetings, to being told by the mayor that "I will stay all night and listen" (when the cameras were there) to quickly adjuring a hearing when the questions started to reveal some major issues. And voters and concerned citizens were still unclear as to the consequences.

A comment by the mayor that she would do what she thought was right for the city seems to still hold. Anyone attending the council meetings has heard the comment made by the mayor that "no decision has been made" or "we will have public hearings before a decision is made" and the famous "it's in the best interest of the city." We all saw the results of these with the sanitation and fire services.

Everyone I have talked to is in agreement that some positive change is required to save the city from its downward spiral as am I. But when concerns by businesses and citizens that have been brought to the mayor and city manager over a year ago still have not been addressed, no amount of window dressing is going to bring new business or positive change to Jonesboro. And lest we forget, the new tax hike hearings for the city is this Thursday.

Thank you, Mayor, for all you do for us.

Jon Crane