Paul Gessing of the Rio Grande Foundation in a recent article presented his views against zoning in San Juan County. We disagree with his stance against zoning in San JuanCounty. Here are our reasons:
Mr. Gessing does not live in San Juan County. He is presenting a philosophical and theoretical
argument without having to "live" the consequences. He does not have to be concerned with building a dream home and have a trucking company move in next door and destroy his home's value. Who protects the homeowner?
Mr. Gessing maintains zoning has inherent, negative impacts on both private property rights and freedom. That argument works both ways. Lack of land use regulations also has negative impacts on property rights. What about the farmer who has invested a lifetime developing his farm only to see a salvage yard destroy his property value? Who protects the farmer?
Protecting personal property rights and values require a balance. Property rights do not give absolute freedom to a property owner to destroy the esthetics and value of a neighbor's property for their own financial benefit. There must be a balance. Who protects the neighbor?
Land use regulations are a community issue. The implications of land use regulations require input of the whole community in San Juan County. What happens in the unincorporated areas of San Juan County effect the property values of all of San Juan County. We are tired of the argument that says: "I moved to the unincorporated county so I can do as I please. Nobody can tell me what I can do with my land." This argument is selfish and it impacts all of us. Who protects the community from the selfish few?
Mr. Gessing states that lack of zoning is good for economic development. Mr. Gessing should try attracting companies to San Juan County. In recent economic development rankings, San Juan County has ranked almost at the bottom of the over 350 metropolitan districts in the United States in terms of physical attractiveness. Lack of land use planning can have a very detrimental impact on economic development. Site selectors for small manufacturing companies have cited lack of land use planning as a reason not to locate to San Juan County.
We doubt if Mr. Gessing has read the proposed land use planning code. While he may not agree philosophically with land use planning, had he read the proposed code we think he would agree it is comprehensive, flexible and reasonable.
Less than 6 percent of the land in San Juan County is private land. That is precisely the point! With so little private land available, land use planning is critical to make the most effective use of our land and create predictability regarding the potential uses of land in the County.
The staff of San Juan County, the County Commissioners and citizen advisory councils have invested thousands of hours in developing a land use code that is reasonable and flexible. Citizen feedback has been overwhelmingly in favor of land use planning.
Land use planning in San Juan County should have happened 50 years ago. We lacked the vision to see where uncontrolled growth might lead. This is a legacy issue for our current County Commissioners to build upon the vision of the past Commission. We would encourage the silent majority of citizens of San Juan County to become involved by going online and reviewing the proposed land use code. It is reasonable. We would urge the silent majority to contact your County Commissioner and voice your support for the adoption of the proposed land use code. Land use planning must be removed from the philosophical arena and become a practical reality for the economic and quality of life for all of San Juan County. Now is the time for the adoption of land use planning in San Juan County.