Unfriendly business climate is misperception

Published 4:09 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

By Chuck Witt, Sun Columnist 

Well, the Sept. 6 meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission was certainly enlightening and interesting.

A couple of comments from audience members made the meeting both.

Several individuals rose to speak in favor of the zone change request of Rural King, a change that would allow the company to continue to utilize part of its outdoor space for display of items for sale.

Two of those individuals made comments that raised a few eyebrows of both commissioners and other members of the audience.

The first was a comment that government (apparently the Planning and Zoning commission in this case) should not be allowed to dictate how much parking a business should be required to provide. This comment apparently arose because part of the issue with the Rural King application was that a good deal of required parking was being taken by display items.

However, parking has always been a key element of planning and zoning, just as landscaping and lot size and setbacks are.  Perhaps the speaker was suggesting that a laissez faire situation should exist and every business should decide for itself how much parking is appropriate.

Parking is an integral part of what planning is all about, a concept the speaker obviously doesn’t grasp.

Admittedly the current requirements for parking need to be examined. It’s an issue which has been in abeyance since before our previous planning director left. But parking requirements should not be completely deleted from planning simply to accommodate libertarian ideals. Perhaps a pertinent question of that speaker would be whether he believes that Planning and Zoning should even exist in this county.

A second remark from the audience was that “There is a perception that Winchester is not business-friendly.”

This comment was made by someone who identified himself as a realtor and it is the second time in a few short weeks that a realtor has appeared before a local board (the planning commission and fiscal court) to spout the contention that Winchester is not business-friendly.

If anyone believes this, he or she should inquire of a member of the Industrial Authority or the Chamber of Commerce or the Tourism Commission or Main Street Winchester or the mayor or judge-executive and find out exactly how many people are continually involved in trying to make Winchester and Clark County receptive to business.

Perhaps the “perception” persists because people like these two realtors consistently espouse the notion even when they don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes to engender a climate of welcome and a willingness to help any aspiring business owner to locate here.

And if there needed to be any further illustration that the “perception” of an unfriendly business climate is completely inaccurate, one has only to look at the actions taken by the Planning Commission on Sept. 6.

On that night, there was one zone change request and four development plan reviews.

Every single one was approved!  And, to top it off, all were approved with virtually no opposition and the zone change request of Rural King even had several supporters who commented.

If an unfriendly atmosphere in Clark County exists, it is only in the limited thinking of those who feed the “perception” by continually naysaying what is happening here.

They need to stop the negativity and do something to help, rather than hinder.