Tri-City Ledger -

By Joe Thomas
Ledger Editor 

June 6 is important day for Flomaton


May 16, 2019

I echo Flomaton Mayor Dewey Bondurant's statement that he wants a huge crowd to show up June 6 when John Robert Smith comes to Flomaton to hold a series of workshops to explain how Smart Growth America's Form Based Code program works.

Mayor Bondurant has said many times that several businesses have looked at coming to Flomaton but took the town off its list because the town has no zoning. He said one of the most recent was a motel that was seriously considering building in Flomaton.

Since I've been here Flomaton has made two attempts at zoning. I chaired a committee that worked about three years to develop a zoning plan for Flomaton and it fell flat on its face when it came time for the Flomaton Town Council to approve it.

Mayor Bondurant formed another committee to study zoning and, like the one I worked on, it fell flat on its face and never got off the ground.

Like Smith and Bondurant, I know the 'Z' word scares people. They don't want the government telling them what they can and can't do with their property. I understand that.

But I've also seen Flomaton scratched off an early list of possible businesses because the town had no zoning. People don't want to be told what they can do or not do with their own land but they are quick to complain when their neighbor brings in something they don't like.

When I chaired the zoning committee for Flomaton we took a lot of time modifying it to fit what we thought was in the best interest of Flomaton. It still didn't fly but then you look at places like Atmore and Brewton, which have zoning, getting more and more jobs while Flomaton basically stands still.

A recent study showed that Highway 31 from Highway 113 in Flomaton to Highway 29 at the intersection near Pizza Hut and Hardee's has the highest traffic count of any road in in our region when you take out I-65. It's prime for development.

I talked with Smith back in February and he explained that Form Based Code is a way to having conforming development without having actual zoning. It takes the 'Z' word out of the equation.

I did some other research and found out that the approach has worked in other areas. I also understand that there are people who will see Form Based Code as a code name for zoning without using that dreaded 'Z' word. Kind of a wolf in sheep's clothes or if it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

If it's really zoning, changing the name to Form Based Code won't change the outcome or perception.

I've done some research on Form Based Code and I like what I see. But don't take my word for it because a lot of the information I got came off the Internet and I'm always skeptical about things I read online.

During Monday's council meeting, Mayor Bondurant said he wants a large crowd to show up June 6. He also said he wants people who are against Form Based Code to be there to listen and ask questions.

We need the people of Flomaton to get involved in this process. If you walk away from the meetings thinking this is a bunch of garbage, relay that information to the mayor and council because they are the ones who will make the final decision. But if you see this as a way to help improve Flomaton's economic stability, tell the mayor and council that as well.

All I ask is that you come in with an open mind. Listen to what Smith has to say. Question him on how Form Based Code will affect you and how it will affect the town of Flomaton.

When I talked to the mayor and Smith back in February they both talked about long-term development and the improvement of quality of life for the people of Flomaton. They were looking 50 years out which means the mayor, every council member and I will be dead.

But it's the roads we pave for future generations that's important. We all want our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to have a great opportunity in the future.

Mark June 6 on your calendar and plan to be there.

As the mayor said Monday night, “June 6 is a very important day for the town of Flomaton”.


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