That was the loud and clear message many Massac County residents provided Thursday night during a hearing held to gather public feedback on a new Zoning Ordinance for the City of Metropolis.
The city’s current Zoning Ordinance dates to 1964. Members of the city’s Planning Commission have discussed updating it for the last 10 years with work toward that goal beginning in 2006 with a series of public meetings to solicit comments and suggestions from citizens . From this emerged a citizen group who over the next year developed a Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted by the Metropolis City Council in 2007. Around 2010, consultant firm Economic Development Resources (EDR) was hired to begin writing the Zoning Ordinance using the information gathered over the last four years.
What was discussed during public hearings Thursday and Friday was a preliminary draft of the ordinance.
“This is a draft document,” Alan Stratemeyer, Zoning Commission committee chair, reminded those present Thursday. “Nobody is saying this is the final document. The process (of developing a new Zoning Ordinance includes getting comments from those affected. The purpose of this hearing is for us to hear your feedback. We very much want to hear everyone’s comments. We want a good, effective Zoning Ordinance in place for our community. . . . We will take your feedback and consider it as we review the current Zoning Ordinance draft. . . . If we hear a very straightforward matter that we feel like we can efficiently address, we’ll do so. But the primary purpose of the meeting is for you to give us your comments so we can be aware of them as we further develop the Zoning Ordinance.”
According to its opening paragraph, the Zoning Ordinance “is applicable to land situated within the corporate limits of the (City of Metropolis) and contiguous territory not more than 1 1/2 miles beyond the corporate limits and not included in any municipality.”
It is because of that “1 1/2 miles beyond the corporate limits,” or the Extraterritorial Jurisdiction (ETJ), that Massac County residents attended Thursday’s hearing.
ETJ is Illinois Municipal Code 65 ILCS 5/11-13-1. In effect since 1961, it refers to the legal ability of a government to exercise authority beyond its normal boundaries. Champaign, Carbondale, O’Fallon, Herrin, Benton, West Frankfort, Flora, Olney and Johnston City are among the cities with ETJs.
Joining Stratemeyer on the panel were Planning Commission chairman Clyde Wills, city attorney Rick Abell, EDR president Gene Norber and city zoning administrator Chad Murray.
Among those joining the approximately 120 Massac County residents Thursday night were Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel; Metropolis aldermen Bill Carrell, David Daugherty and David McManus; and Zoning Commission members Don Harper, Bob Lingle, Art Long, Mike Souders, Mark Thompson and Jim Young. Roughly 75 people attended Friday’s public hearing.