January 14, 2016
It seems Jasper County taxpayers will pay the county attorney to write up a text amendment to our code so that “special events” (which will be determined by this new text amendment as to just what they are) can be held in the Agriculture districts of the county.
Shane Sealy, P&Z Administrator, had previously said that there was no category in the code for Bennett Cove to apply for a special use permit. Despite numerous complaints by citizens and property owners of this county about wild parties, noise, liquor, etc. at Bennett Cove over many months, our BOC took Mr. Sealy’s and their attorney’s recommendation to amend our code to make it “legitimate” for “special events” to take place in a 5-Ø vote.
Even though Bennett’s Cove advertises as a wedding venue (and there have been weddings there) and a place for day events, what goes on many week-ends is the raucous night life. At present what “special events” means is noise, liquor, and all night partying.
Two of the commissioners did discuss having something in the text amendment to be able to enforce the new code, but what does that mean? We have a noise ordinance that isn’t enforced. We have business license procedures that were never followed and nothing was done. We have laws about liquor and its sale that have not been enforced. So what makes anyone think that any enforcement will be done by either the Sheriff’s department or by Code Enforcement?
This amendment can be very specific on the activities allowed, but no matter what they put in the text amendment, you still have to have someone that will enforce it. That is the biggest problem and will be the biggest problem.
Jasper County’s code states in Section 119-194 says this about the AG district:
(a) The purpose of the agricultural (AG) district is to maintain an area of agricultural use and rural character within the county, to preserve a working agricultural economy and rural landscape in these areas, to conserve environmentally sensitive resources, to stabilize and protect single-family characteristics of the district, and to promote and encourage a suitable environment for family life.
(b) Application of this zone will ensure that the farming, pasture, and forestry uses, and the scenic values associated with these and the single-family residential character of these areas are protected from incompatible development that could result in the degradation of these values.
People have moved to Jasper County for a reason—and people that stay here have stayed for a reason. Peace and quiet and a rural atmosphere. People have horses, cows, dogs, and other animals in the Agriculture district that are also disturbed by loud booming music at 2:00 in the morning.
Everyone that lives in Jasper County should be concerned about the proposed text amendment. There may be a “special event” coming near you in the future if this passes. The citizens should have a say in what this code amendment says as well, not just Dr. Bennett who lives out of our county and wants to make money at our own citizens’ expense and misery.
This will be presented to the BOC on February 1st according to Shane Sealy; however, any code change has to have a public hearing and be read at 2 different BOC meetings before it can pass. Please be willing to let the commissioners know how you feel about this proposed text amendment and plan to attend the February 1st BOC meeting at 6:00PM.
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.