News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Counties need to act on law for home rule

Limited home rule is something voters in unincorporated areas of Morgan County should be hearing a lot more about in coming months.

It's not designed to raise taxes or for planning or zoning ordinances, but to help people take care of basic problems like weeds and junkyards.

The Legislature this year gave county commissions authority to call a referendum of voters in unincorporated areas to see if they want this limited home rule.

The law specifically gives county commissions authority to develop ordinances to not only control weeds and junkyards, but litter and rubbish, noise, pollution, unsanitary sewage and animals, if voters approve.

These are issues that city and town governments deal with every day to improve quality of life. But county commissions routinely throw up their hands and say the Legislature prohibits them from taking action.

Not all county commissions want this authority because blaming the Legislature is easier. If the County Commission doesn't act, the law gives citizens the right to petition for a vote.

Don't let anyone tell you that this is a first step toward county zoning. It isn't. It's a first step toward getting relief from persistent nuisances and safety issues.

The commission should set the referendum for a vote during next spring's primary elections.

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