5% is better than 0%

Published:

It was a long, protracted process unnecessarily so, in our way of thinking but Fiscal Court appears ready to adopt a compromise on the issue of how much open space to require in new subdivisions in Franklin County.

A majority of magistrates say they will support a 5 percent requirement. Thats less than the 8 percent originally adopted by the Planning Commission for new subdivision regulations, but more than the 4 percent the Commission later accepted in the face of opposition from residential developers.

And it is a whole lot better than no requirement for open space voted by a Fiscal Court frustrated at the inability of the Planning Commission, City Commission and the magistrates to come up with a suitable figure.

Magistrate Ira Fannin, who opposes any open space requirement, observed last week that the regulation favors more upscale developments, and that is undoubtedly true. For example, the 115 patio homes development approved for Berry Hill by the Planning Commission will have homes priced at $235,000 and $255,000 and more than 80 percent of the 45-acre tract will be left as open space.

But a 5 percent open space standard for less expensive subdivisions would mandate less than three acres on a similar tract, which would translate into open land for young families to use for recreation and for older residents to use for walking and exercise. Thats hardly an onerous burden on any developer.

And there also is a need for clear requirements for the cost of maintenance involved in the required open space areas. Homeowners associations are relatively new to Franklin County, but they have been successful in other communities across the state, and there is no reason to believe they cannot be successful here.

In the years ahead, as residential developments proliferate around the county, we believe the residents of those future developments will be grateful for zoning regulations that require a minimum amount of open space be preserved for their use and enjoyment.

The 5 percent compromise is reasonable and ultimately desirable.

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