Zoning Working in Harrison County

Zoning gives property owners in the county's unincorporated areas of Harrison County protection against certain development that could occur right next to them. But some zoning opponents say the new law could prevent them from living where they want. Ask Tracie and Joanna Smith say zoning stopped them from putting a mobile home on a one acre plot of land. But the zoning director says that may not be the case depending on what kind of buildings surround the property. That would be determined after the women apply for a mobile home permit. Tracie and Joanna say financially they can't afford to buy more land. Joanna Smith says, "Three acres is hard for a lot of people on their own to buy, a single parent especially. I'm a single parent with three kids and I can't go out and buy three acres of land and build a home on it. One or two maybe would be possible but not three." "By the time you get the loan, then you have to have permits for your well and your septic tank and your electricity, you can't afford it, you can't afford three acres," says Tracie Smith.

Zoning may cause hardship to some people but the supervisors say the county is growing too fast not to have some sort of land use regulations in place.Supervisors' President Larry Benefield says, "Citizens realized zoning was there for protection of them and their property value so the county was ready for it. Even during the hearings we had very little complaint about trying to put zoning in this county. Most of it was positive, things about why we need zoning." Benefield says he knows zoning is causing problems for some people, but he says once all the kinks are worked out, the county as a whole will benefit."I think there's been some hard times some growing pains with it with some people not understanding why they can't put a mobile home on a particular piece of parcel or why they have to divide a piece of property into smaller parcels to subdivide it but I think as a general rule people are satisfied with it."

Benefield says it will take awhile for people to learn about the zoning ordinance.  He says the newly seated zoning commission has refused very few permits from people wanting to add to their property or make changes.