Column: Land-use offices expect another busy yearIt is that time of year to jingle your bells and ride your sleigh. It is also a time to reflect about the past year and prepare for the next year.
By: Lisa Hanni, The Republican Eagle
It is that time of year to jingle your bells and ride your sleigh. It is also a time to reflect about the past year and prepare for the next year.
I go through my office and tidy up my desk, book shelves, and tables. Things get dusted, filed, or passed on to someone else. Furniture gets rearranged and winter clothes move in.
But the biggest challenge is to sort through all the paper.
The past couple of years have seen a flurry of activity with the one-word issues: wind, CAPX2020, and sand. The public’s increased awareness and participation has brought with it a lot of paperwork.
Along with the scrutinizing of that paperwork, the “to do” lists are reviewed to see if they were completed, the phone logs get packed away, and the various newsletters are recycled.
The end of the year is a very busy time of year in County Land-use offices. For example, state law requires the current years’ taxes to be paid prior to property splits or platting so there are many transactions that occur between the end of October and Dec. 31. The potential for a large increase in capital gains taxes in 2013 has also motivated many sales these past two months.
The cyclically warm weather through the beginning of December has allowed many homeowners and builders a few more weeks of outside construction and septic work. In the last couple of years we have seen an increase in remodeling and upgrading of existing homes as compared to new homes being built.
Preparing for the next year can be an exciting time as well.
As I put my timesheet together for the year, I look at the fourth of July week and think of how far away that is and wonder what issues will consume the office by then. We have a number of our one-word issues that will still be prevalent and demand continued attention, but what new concerns will present themselves?
Balancing environmental concerns with the reasonable use of private property is always a challenge. We continue to refine our ordinances through the public process and, in doing so, hope to achieve enforceable regulations yet still allow and encourage development and improvements that successfully protect what the community values.
The public’s participation is a very important part of this process. At the national level, one half of the country voted against what you voted for; our local issues can be just as divisive and for this reason, it is important that we hear the many sides of an issue so that we can strive for that balance.
So like the mythical Roman god Janus, let us look back on the year past and forward to the year ahead. Much was accomplished and much will be required of us in the next year. We are fortunate to be able to create and utilize many great tools to help us make decisions on the basic permits, and to provide the research on the more complicated policy issues.
The staffing organization and the coordination of the public process necessary to meet all the statutory deadlines can be daunting at times, but the task gets completed.
As in the past and so in the future, our offices are here to respectfully serve the public to the best of our abilities.
Have a safe and peaceful holiday season.