News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


County planning, zoning protect property values

Bob Crawford wants to make sure the property he subdivides at Cotaco doesn't go the way of much rural development. His picturesque valley pastureland is ideal for people who want country living with a view and he wants it to remain unspoiled.

The only way he can guarantee that the mini-farms he's developing get a measure of protection is to build restrictions into the deeds on the 45 acres. He plans for the mini farms to be 7 to 10 acres each, enough land for a few cows and horses and far enough from neighbors that they won't feel the impact of livestock.

"We believe restrictions will enhance the area and will result in someone who builds out there to make an investment that will have increased value in times to come," Mr. Crawford said.

The property is unspoiled, as he said. "There are no service stations, trailers, junkyards or chicken houses," he noted.

His observations make a good argument for countywide planning and zoning. While there are no chicken houses now, the smell from 10,000 chickens or a commercial parlor with 1,000 pigs can easily waft across mountains and up hollows if someone decides to build them down the road.

Currently, the Lacey's Spring area is abuzz because some property owners want annexation into Huntsville to get away from clutter.

The Legislature last year gave county commissions the authority to call referendums of rural residents only to see if they want limited home rule. Those that approve it give their county commissions authority to regulate junkyards, weeds, noises and animals. But it doesn't give them the authority to make sure homes get proper building inspections, or protect them from a variety of situations.

Mr. Crawford envisions homes of 3,000 square feet or more and costing $300,000 going on the mini farms. But even with his restrictions, buyers can't be sure of adequate protection for their investments.

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