Commissioner considering land use policy


Staff writer

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Lack of zoning and other regulations have meant that Curry County has little control over what is imposed within its limits.

But in the months ahead, its residents will be called upon to give input that may help the county achieve more jurisdiction over its land.

Curry County Commissioner Wendell Bostwick said he has been considering implementing a land use policy within the county. Bostwick said he began discussing his ideas with County Manager Lance Pyle about five months ago, and has brought up the subject at several county commission meetings.

A land use policy, Bostwick said, can help give an area some protection from federal regulations — of particular concern are those regulations that pertain to the Endangered Species Act or the Environmental Protection Agency.

A land use policy would also allow the county control over businesses, though Bostwick insists the renewed interest has nothing to do with a recently proposed strip club.

A land use policy allows officials to designate an area’s best use. Should it be determined that Curry County’s best use is agriculture, for example, this would contradict and supersede a federal mandate stating that the county should serve to protect an endangered or threatened species.

“(A land use policy) would help us in being able to determine (the county’s) best use, rather than the federal agencies determining its best use,” Bostwick said.

An established land use policy could also give the county a way to regulate the operational procedures of businesses.

“There are zoning opportunities in the land use policy,” Bostwick said.

Bostwick and Pyle said it will be the residents of Curry County who would have to help determine what the county’s best use actually is under a land use policy.

The land use policy would fall under the county’s comprehensive plan — a guide used to determine the county’s goals and the needs of its citizens.

“The goal of the comprehensive plan is to ... get the public’s (ideas for) development,” Pyle said. “We will have several public meetings to ask people how to develop the plan.

“We’re going to engage the public.”

Aside from land use, the comprehensive plan would include sections on other subjects important to the county, such as economic development and water.

Having a comprehensive plan in place also facilitates the application for certain grants.

Curry County’s last comprehensive plan was created in 2007. The new comprehensive plan — which should be completed no later than April 2015— will be the county’s plan for the next five years, Pyle said.

The hope is to begin to develop the comprehensive plan later this year, Pyle said.


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