Thursday, June 14, 2001

Smart-growth dialogue begins

Residents urged to think about planning

The Associated Press

        OWINGSVILLE, Ky. — A digital camera perched on a cardboard box flashed images of strip malls, traffic jams and blandly uniform subdivisions on the Bath County Courthouse wall.

        The images painted a cautionary tale for the governor's smart-growth task force, which began a series of 15 meetings around the state.

        “You may think that it is never going to happen in Owingsville but I can tell you it is going to happen here. Liberty, Pikeville, Owingsville, they are going to look alike,” said Tom Bennett, Commissioner of Fish & Wildlife Resources, during a presentation Monday.

        The task force aims to encourage local residents to explore planning options for their areas and to gather information to help shape initiatives during the legislative session.

        During Monday's meeting, the group appeared to be preaching to the choir. The 50-member audience was made up mostly of people sporting “Smart Progress” buttons, referring to a group that is opposed to a proposed road cutting through the Daniel Boone National Forest.

        Michael Campbell, a group organizer, urged task-force representatives to cut all state and federal funds to the 25 percent of Kentucky counties without planning and zoning. That includes Rowan and Bath counties.

        But Rowan County Judge-Executive Clyde Thomas said the activists are a minority. The people who put him in office don't want planning or zoning, Mr. Thomas said. They want jobs that lower the county's 23 percent poverty rate.

        Mr. Thomas said the road opposed by Smart Progress is the single most important effort to ensure Rowan County's future.

        Even with Morehead State University and some new businesses, the median income in Rowan County is $25,000 and mobile homes make up the bulk of home sales.


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