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TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Flint's problems come from poor oversight

Flint is an example of why cities and rural areas need strong planning and zoning regulations.

At one time, Flint's town leaders prided themselves on being outside Decatur and not subject to the rules that protect citizens from a variety of calamities, including raw sewage.

But living the laissez faire life overwhelmed Flint long before its residents voted to come into Decatur in 1991 because of chronic sewage problems.

The problems are still there, in part, because cleaning up an area that grows without restrictions is difficult. It's also expensive.

Decatur didn't need Flint continuing to grow as it was, thus its motivation for annexation and the agreement for the city, Decatur Utilities and residents to share equally in the cost of sewerage installation. The city planned to offer sewerage to 276 households. Today, between 60 and 70 use the city's sewer system. Many others have persistent septic tank problems that affect the health and quality of life of residents in that area.

The city will eventually get the problem stopped. Even for people who don't live in Flint, getting the sewage problems resolved is important. Many of the diseases that come from raw sewage can be transmitted great distances by houseflies.

Nothing can be done now about how Flint developed, but something can be done to prevent more situations like Flint's from occurring in rural areas.

County officials don't want the power to zone and regulate because many rural residents still prefer country living. In this case, politics trump leadership.

Residents in fast-growing rural areas, however, should worry that they, too, could one day have a similar experience.

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