The Jackson County Board of Commissioners has set a hearing for public input on proposed changes to the county’s Unified Development Ordinance.

If approved, the changes will clarify and redefine ordinances relating to industry, erosion control and property development.

The reason for the changes is to continue to clarify planning and zoning requirements, said Planning Director Mike Poston.

“We adopted the UDO in August and we talked about all during that process (that) the first step in our ordinance amendment process was to develop the Unified Development Ordinance that recodified the ordinance, and then, we would start to go back and deal with the policy issues within the document that we knew existed as we moved through it,” Poston said.

The Planning Board began to work on changes in September.

The recommended ordinance regarding industry will change the definition of heavy industry.

The terms were changed to allow a smaller industry to exist without being subject to the same restrictions as a larger company that may have greater effect on nearby properties.

“The current definition of heavy industry is very broad, and by that definition anything that you may create from a raw material into something else would be defined as a heavy industry,” Poston said. “So a cabinet shop would be a heavy industry; some smaller type of thing would be a heavy industry.”

By the former definition smaller business with less environmental impact would be required to follow the same protocols as a particleboard plant such as a 1,340 foot, or one-quarter mile, setback from residential buildings or churches. 

Heavy industry will be subject to industrial development regulations.

Planning and zoning staff will consider manufacturing processes like outdoor storage, processes that take place outside the building, processes that create noise, odor, dust or vibration and processes that could impact soil, water or air quality when determining if a business will be designated heavy industry.

Changes to the erosion policies will protect property and lessen environmental impact.

The first change applies to subdivision ordinances. Poston requested the board change language that applies to cut and fill slopes when land is being graded and developed. 

The change is being requested so it aligns with language in the erosion control ordinance.

Poston and the Planning Department consulted with Tony Elders, director of permitting and code enforcement, about what rules would be helpful to help manage erosion control as land is developed. 

Another change applies to protecting topsoil and, indirectly, waterways.

Under previous guidelines the county had varying requirements for when groundcover should be in place after grading was completed on a project.

“A lot of it was tied to the ending of a phase of grading or the final grading being completed,” Poston said. “There was a little bit of trouble with applying that because phases of grading sometimes take multiple months, and you’d be left with slopes not stabilized for that time.”

New language removed references to phasing and final phasing and changed the term to ground disturbance.

New guidelines state that once ground is disturbed, developers will have seven days to stabilize the area. The type of stabilization depends upon the permit issued.

The planning department also changed some enforcement procedures to align with state requirements.

Copies of the proposed changes can be viewed on the county’s website under the government tab and the commissioners meeting agendas link.

The hearing will be held at 5:55 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Justice Center.