County planners OK resolutions for historic monuments, billboards in FAR zones

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Dyer County Regional Planning Commission passed resolutions Thursday allowing historic monuments and advertising signs in forestry, agriculture and recreation zones.

The resolutions also must be approved by the Dyer County Commission before becoming part of the county's zoning regulations.

The resolutions are perceived as potential solutions to two controversial topics: a giant flagpole near Trimble and an alleged case of spot zoning for a Highway 78 billboard.

Under the proposed amendments, anyone who wants to erect a monument or sign must seek special permits from the county's Board of Zoning Appeals.

The flagpole

The Sons of Confederate Veterans erected an 80-foot-tall flagpole near Pierce Cemetery in a forestry, agriculture and recreation (FAR) zone. A 20-by-30-foot Confederate flag now flies high on a hill overlooking Interstate 155.

Last month, Bill Foster of Union City, commander of the 10-county Sons of Confederate Veterans division that established the flagpole, said it is part of a complex "for history, heritage and honor." The SCV plans to place Confederate "mega-flags" along routes across the southern United States.

After the flagpole was erected, a complaint was filed with the Dyer County Board of Zoning Appeals. Historic monuments, such as this, are not permitted in FAR zones. The board declined Aug. 12 to approve a variance for the flagpole, but board members said the SCV could ask the county to amend its zoning regulations.

On Thursday, Trimble Mayor Jim Stark urged county planners not to adopt the resolution. He worried aloud that allowing monuments in FAR zones potentially opens a can of worms. The county could be asked to authorize memorials to "goodness knows what. You guys will have to make decisions on all kinds of things."

As for the flagpole in Trimble, Stark said it wasn't truly a memorial. "Their agenda," he said, speaking of the SCV, "is a political agenda. The South is a country within a country." This Confederate flag and many more on major roads throughout the South send messages warning people they have entered different territory.

A Confederate flag may not be the proper memorial in this case. Stark said a soldier stationed at Shaw Air Force Base stopped at the flag memorial Monday and then proceeded to Trimble City Hall. He said he had no trouble with the Confederate flag, but he questioned why a Confederate flag was used at a monument for those who fought in all the wars, including the War of 1812, both world wars, Korea, Vietnam and other more recent conflicts.

Stark said the monument is under a foreign flag - and now so is the cemetery, the final resting place not only for Confederate soldiers but also for slaves.

The SCV was not represented during Thursday's regular monthly meeting.

Danny Willis, a county planner, questioned whether the commission could censor free speech. "If burning a flag is freedom of speech, isn't flying a flag freedom of speech?" he asked.

Daniel Cobb, the county's building official, said the county can't tell anyone what to put on a flagpole. The real problem, he said, is that an 80-foot-tall flagpole isn't a permitted use in the FAR zone.

County Attorney Mike Gauldin said the question is whether historic monuments should be allowed in FAR zones.

Charles Maxey, a county planning commission member, asked whether the proposed resolution would result in a multitude of requests for monuments. He said he doubted it.

Mickey McClure, a planning commission member, said he believed monuments should be in a commercial zone, like the monuments on the courthouse lawn. He made a motion rejecting the proposed resolution, but his motion failed to get a second.

Stating that she believed this was a decision for the county commission to make, planning commission member Barbara Johnson made a motion to approve the resolution. Larry Maupin seconded the motion. It passed with Johnson, Maupin, Jimmy Putman, Danny Willis and Roy Barker voting for it. McClure and Maxey voted against it.

The resolution requires that historic and monument sites be:

* At least 500 feet away from existing residential uses.

* Have adequate access to a public road with adequate parking.

* Reasonably open to the general public.

* Compliant with height, lot coverage and yard requirements for the district.

Billboards

The alleged case of spot zoning happened on Aug. 14 when the planning commission rezoned a 0.2-acre parcel of land from FAR to Commercial. Billboards are allowed in Commercial zones but not in FAR. The landowner, David Adcock, wanted to place a 10-by-20-foot billboard on his land to advertise his motor sports business.

Although the planning commission granted his request, Adcock later withdrew his request and asked the county to consider altering the zoning regulations.

With little discussion, the planning commission adopted the resolution with McClure abstaining.

The resolution requires that signs, billboards and other advertising structures be:

* Forbidden on road rights-of-way.

* No larger than 382 square feet in size.

* At least 1,000 feet apart on the same side of the street or 500 feet from another sign on the opposite side of the street.

* At least 1,000 feet from existing residential uses.

* In compliance with height restrictions for the zoning district.

* Restricted to arterial roads, a designation for some of the county's most heavily trafficked roads.

Other business

In other business, the county planners approved a resolution allowing water tanks in FAR zones and authorizing a minor subdivision.

Like the previous resolutions, the water tank proposal must be approved by the county commission before it will be added to the zoning regulations. Anyone planning to erect a water tank in an FAR zone must first obtain a special permit from the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The resolution establishes minimum distances between water tanks and property lines, utilities and residences.

The minor subdivision would divide a parcel on Lennie Clark Road into two lots.

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  • No Jim, you have opened a can of worms.

    -- Posted by candle1 on Fri, Sep 12, 2008, at 3:17 PM
  • The last time I checked there were not any other countries within the border of the United States. Jim Stark seems to have a problem of talking without thinking. The people in the South have always been very proud of their heritage and traditions that are not found anywhere else in the nation. Other areas in this great country have traditions and a way of life that makes them happy and that is what makes this country great. Life is good down South and if you don't believe that then go up north and stay for a while. The people of the town of Trimble elected Stark to represent them and their interests and not to apply his own personal views on everything that comes along. Undoubtedly Stark doesn't realize that the flag flying on Mr. Parks' property is not even in the city limits of Trimble so the Mayor and Board of Alderman have absolutely no business talking about it at their meetings. Stark should start listening to the people of Trimble because the vast majority have nothing against Mr. Parks flying the Confederate Battle Flag on his own personal property. The people of Trimble elected Stark and it appears they will vote him out of office by a landslide this time. Mr. Stark you have no one to blame but yourself.

    -- Posted by tellitlikeitis on Fri, Sep 12, 2008, at 8:52 PM
  • This is another case of "Big Brother" trying to take control of property rights. I wonder how Mayor Starks would like it if I complained about something in his yard and he was made to take it away.

    I don't recall seeing that the monument was ever intended to be a memorial to all the wars of this country, as the soldier from Shaw Air Force Base indicated. My understanding is that it is to honor the heritage of many of the people of this area.

    This flag was not the official flag of the Confederate States. It was a soldiers flag carried into battle.

    -- Posted by moedini on Fri, Sep 12, 2008, at 11:10 PM
  • The flag should stay as is, if you dont live out in the county, keep your mouth shut Mr. Starks

    -- Posted by sid36us on Sat, Sep 13, 2008, at 5:56 AM
  • In the history I was taught, the Confedertae flag on the flag pole was never recognized as the official flag of the Confederate States. That being said, then how could it be a foriegn flag? Anyway,when did someone decide that a flagpole was a monument? I have a flagpole in my frontyard. This is just another attempt to step on individual rights.

    -- Posted by mississippian on Sat, Sep 13, 2008, at 6:03 AM
  • The last time I checked this was a free country. Let it fly. Im sick of liberal tree huggers getting their way every time they start crying!! I had ancestors that died fighting for that flag. Lets honor our past whatevr it might be. All we need is a few more rules in this country. Our forefathers fought and died so this country could be free..

    -- Posted by obionriverrat on Sat, Sep 13, 2008, at 7:16 AM
  • Mr. Stark seems to be obcessing about this subject. I wonder if the soldier supposed to have stopped at the Trimble city hall was told that this was a memorial to the Confederate soldiers from Dyer county?

    I also wonder how Mr. Stark found out what the "agenda" of the SCV is? Is he a member? Who told him the SCV has a "political agenda?" What is the source of his information? Does he have any knowledge or is he just blowing smoke? If he cannot cite a reliable source for his accusations he should be quiet--or he may be called into court to account for his false statements.

    -- Posted by PastorMike on Sat, Sep 13, 2008, at 7:00 PM
  • I don't know why they want to fly the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia that causes so much sensitive, passionate controversy. If they would use the First Confederate National Flag there would be no problem because no one would know what it is.

    http://www.sonofthesouth.net/leefoundation/confederate-national-flag.jpg

    -- Posted by Chickasaw on Sun, Sep 14, 2008, at 9:33 AM
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