County property rights group formed

Stephens area residents gathered at the Stephens Community Center to learn more about Enhanced Enterprise Zones. The meeting was organized by the newly organized Callaway County Property Coalition, which opposes Enhanced Enterprise Zones.

Stephens area residents gathered at the Stephens Community Center to learn more about Enhanced Enterprise Zones. The meeting was organized by the newly organized Callaway County Property Coalition, which opposes Enhanced Enterprise Zones. Contributed photo

A Callaway County Property Rights Coalition has been organized to oppose any proposed Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ) in Callaway County.

About a dozen citizens gathered Friday night at the Stephens Community Center to discuss the proposed EEZ.

“Every person located within the proposed EEZ needs to be informed,” said event organizer Lawrence Pezold.

At the Stephens meeting, Rachel Payton, a member of the board of directors of the Callaway County Property Rights Coalition, explained how citizens can effectively take action to support or oppose local proposals that affect property rights. Those attending the meeting discussed the general concept of enhanced enterprise zones.

The EEZ proposal came from the Fulton Area Development Corporation (FADC), which wants the EEZ designation in order to give tax breaks to eligible industries willing to create jobs in the community.

But the property rights group is solidly against the EEZs because of the state legal requirement that an area to be designated as an Enhanced Enterprise Zone “shall be a blighted area, have pervasive poverty, unemployment and general distress.”

Missouri law also requires “at least 60 percent of the residents living in the area have incomes below 90 percent of the median income of all residents.”

Many Callaway County farmers don’t want their property to be declared as blighted, even if that designation allows a corporation to expand an industry to create jobs.

“Now we are taking our message to other communities throughout the county,” said Mitch Hubbard, president of the Callaway Property Rights Coalition (CPRC).

Hubbard said the CPRC is growing and will defend all property rights in the future.

“Our organization is concerned with all threats to our property rights,” said Phil Todd, vice president of CPRC.

Jim Holland, who was part of the initial EEZ opposition, said the EEZ proposal has created a grassroots movement of citizens who are concerned about their property rights.

The FADC has dropped its original plan because it was based on now outdated census data.

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