By JEFF DURBIN, Missourian staff writer
February 16, 1999

Editor's note: Boone County is gearing up for public hearings around the county beginning in March to receive input on revised land-use regulations. This is the first article of a three-part series examining several of the proposals.

Today: Scenic road protection
Wednesday: Zoning for adult businesses
Thursday: Limits on billboards


Roby Farm Road still shows traces of its first incarnation as a Native American route along the Missouri River. Indian mounds and arrowheads are found in this sinkhole region, where a pond can disappear overnight, and Sinking Creek descends from the surface into Boone Cave.

Hardwood forests, hayfields and the occasional mailbox line the country lane, which may become Boone County's first scenic road if a county ordinance passes with the public and county officials. The proposal lays out the framework for designation of other scenic roads in the future.

Travelers along Roby Farm Road see deer, turkey, pileated woodpeckers - and chickens.

"That's one of the hazards of the road," said Roby Farm Road resident Marjorie McDermott. "The chickens are always going back and forth. I think it's a delight."

Thanks in part to McDermott and fellow Roby Farm Road resident Jean Graebner, Boone County is introducing protection of scenic roads in a revision of its zoning regulations.

"You can call us the instigators," McDermott said good-naturedly.

As currently written, the ordinance would make it difficult to change zoning along scenic roads and would require new commercial or industrial construction to screen loading, storage, waste and parking areas from view. Outdoor lights would need to be less than 25 feet high.

Residents of the road under consideration would take the lead in the application process. They would have to gather signatures of at least 50 percent of the property owners along that road. The signatures must also represent at least 75 percent of the frontage property.

To win designation, the petition would go to the planning department for review, then appear before the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Boone County Commission.

McDermott and Graebner first approached the Boone County Commission about five years ago.

"We could see growth from the city coming out," McDermott said. "This is not just for us, but for everyone. We're very interested in controlled growth."

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Keith Kirkpatrick said he's not convinced that the county is ready for such an ordinance, and is concerned about the impact on property owners who might not want such a designation.

"My personal feeling is that the regulations are pretty restrictive," Kirkpatrick said. "It's putting more control over property owners than I'd like to see."

County planning director Stan Shawver said that because commercial and industrial areas are not generally located on scenic roads, there would be little impact on business.

A committee appointed by the county commission, and led by planning department staff, drew up the proposal. The committee used examples from other states as a guide.

Rock Quarry Road, which runs from Capen Park in the north to Rock Bridge Park in the south, is already designated scenic in the city of Columbia. It has been discussed as another candidate for county protected status.

Graebner said scenic-road designation is something the whole county could benefit from.

"When a county grows as fast as Boone County is, people interested in preservation need to have tools," Graebner said. "We're not reacting to anything. We're trying to stay ahead of the game."