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The Madison Record

Zoning laws: A case for constitutional reform

By By Shawn Fargerson
Guest writer
As a candidate for the District 6 seat in the Alabama House of Representatives, I am attempting to address issues I believe are important for Alabama and the Sixth District. A pressing issue is the need for constitutional reform. My preference is a convention of citizens elected to write a new constitution, rather than allowing the Legislature to re-write it articles by article. Our Legislature has trouble finishing their regular business without the need for special sessions and so would not have enough time to work on a new constitution. An argument against a convention is that special interest groups would control it. Lobbyists already control our Legislature; a convention of citizens could only be an improvement.
A particular area that needs to be addressed during a constitutional re-write is the issue of home rule. Limited home rule seems to make the most sense, and should include the authority for county commissions to enact and enforce zoning laws. At present, a property owner has no assurance of stable and growing property values because no zoning authority exists. A cursory glance around Madison County will yield numerous examples of retail establishments adjacent to residential areas, and bars or liquor stores near schools or churches. This is a problem that can and should be addressed in a constitutional convention.
Shawn Fargerson is president of the Madison County Board of Education and a candidate for House District 6. He is the associate pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church.

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